Clinton Clinches California Democratic Primary

California
AP

Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the contentious Democratic primary in California Wednesday morning.

The Associated Press called the race in favor of Clinton at 6:30 a.m. EST. She captured 56 percent of the vote with nearly all precincts reporting while her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) won 43 percent.

Clinton declared herself the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Tuesday night after easily defeating Sanders in New Jersey’s contest. Clinton clinched 73 of the 126 delegates up for grabs in the state.

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She also notched wins in New Mexico and South Dakota while Sanders took Montana and North Dakota.

Clinton’s wins in the delegate-rich states paved the way for her to become the first woman in the nation’s history to lead the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party.

"Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone," she said in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Sanders was on the West Coast hoping to swing an upset in California despite plans to lay off at least half of his campaign staff Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

Once projected as an easy win for Clinton, polls leading up to the state’s primary election showed the race in a virtual dead heat.

Failure in the nation’s most populous state would have marked an embarrassing loss for the Clinton camp, cementing the notion that the Democratic Party is unprepared to unite against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton had planned to claim victory over Sanders in the long-fought primaries Tuesday, but the moment proved anticlimactic after the Associated Press declared her the presumptive nominee a day earlier.

The AP reported Monday night that Clinton had surpassed the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. The announcement drew ire from both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.

A Sanders spokesman condemned the media’s "rush to judgment" in declaring Clinton the nominee, arguing that superdelegates should not be counted until the party’s convention in July where they officially pledge votes.

While Clinton’s expanded lead in the delegates allows her to pivot toward a general election campaign against Trump, she still faces a battle to attract Sanders supporters in order to unify the party ahead of the convention.