Cruz sweeps Colorado, Sanders wins Wyoming

3 min

Washington (AFP)

Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruz both scored weekend victories against their front-running rivals in a tightening race as the two major parties prepare to pick their White House nominee.

Cruz, the Texas Senator, chipped away at fellow Republican Donald Trump's lead by taking all 13 Colorado delegates at stake in a state Republican convention Saturday, his fourth win in a row against the bombastic billionaire.

That was in addition to another 21 delegates Cruz won in the state through a series of county elections, for a total of 34.

Colorado will send a total of 37 delegates to the Republican National Convention in July, including three unpledged delegates who are the party's top leaders in the state.

"Today was another resounding victory for conservatives, Republicans, and Americans who care about the future of our country," Cruz said in a statement.

"Utah, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and tonight's incredible results in Colorado have proven this: Republicans are uniting behind our campaign because they want a leader with real solutions who will bring back jobs, freedom and security."

- Surprise win -

Sanders meanwhile pulled off a surprise win over rival Hillary Clinton in the Wyoming caucuses, his eighth victory in the last nine contests.

Despite the Democratic Senator's 10-point lead over Clinton (55.7 percent to 44.3 percent), both candidates scored seven delegates each due to party rules in the overwhelmingly Republican state.

That means Sanders barely put a dent in Clinton's more than 200-delegate lead.

But it gives the self-described democratic socialist another morale boost ahead of the crucial New York primary on April 19.

Clinton remains the clear frontrunner for the Democratic party presidential ticket for November's election, but Sanders has the momentum and has enjoyed a string of successes at the polls in recent weeks.

Speaking to supporters in New York, Sanders broke into his speech to say to cheers: "All right. News bulletin. We just won Wyoming."

Sanders -- who locked horns with his rival Clinton over trade and the "Panama Papers" scandal this week -- later said he continued to confound the doubters.

"I think it's fair to say that when we began this campaign we were considered to be a fringe candidate," said the 74-year-old.

"I think that it is very fair to say that we were way, way behind during the first half of this contest, but we are having -- to say the least -- a very strong second half, and we are closing very fast."

However, it will still take a remarkable turnaround for Sanders to win the nomination over Clinton, a former secretary of state and first lady who goes into the New York primary as heavy favorite to extend her lead in the overall race.

New York, America's largest city and one of its most diverse, has demographics that play well to Clinton's support base among the wealthy and minorities.

Clinton leads Sanders 54-42 percent among likely Democratic voters in New York, according to Quinnipiac University polls.

Sanders, who hails from Brooklyn and has called for nothing short of "revolution," has attracted in particular the youth vote, but he is faring poorly in comparison with Clinton among African Americans in particular.