NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Republican turnout in Tennessee outstripped Democrats by more than a 2-to-1 margin, a show of muscle that encouraged the state’s GOP leaders even if they didn’t back winner Donald Trump.
Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was in third place behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The governor said he was “encouraged” by the voting totals, but he hasn’t yet said whether he would support Trump if he ends up the GOP nominee.
Sen. Bob Corker did not endorse before the primary, but says he plans to support the GOP nominee this fall.
One Republican voicing strong support for Trump’s win was state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who said his campaign “has electrified Republican and independent voters alike.”
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Here is Ron Ramsey’s statement on the Tennessee Primary results:
“Congratulations to all our Republican candidates on a hard fought and successful presidential primary election. I commend Donald Trump on a tremendous victory here in Tennessee and across the SEC primary states. Trump’s campaign has electrified Republican and independent voters alike. But more than that, the Trump campaign is giving voice to frustrated and alienated Americans who had all but abandoned the political process. Trump is bringing important issues to the forefront and new voters to the party. If Donald Trump continues on this path to the nomination, I will support him wholeheartedly, he will defeat Hillary Clinton and we will make America great again.”
The Tennessee Republican Party released the following statement from Chairman Ryan Haynes regarding Tennessee’s results from the Presidential Preference Primary:
“While we are still awaiting complete results from around the state, it is clear that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio will leave Tennessee with delegates. Those three campaigns had large operations in our state and earned votes here. I congratulate Mr. Trump for winning here, as well as Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio for their strong showings. Tonight was the first stage of a national campaign and I commend all of our candidates for competing hard across the SEC Primary and Super Tuesday.”
“Meanwhile, Democrats continue underperforming. Hillary Clinton cannot put away a socialist who is outraising her. On our side, Republicans continue turning out at a record level. We are focused squarely on November and it is clear, as long as our candidates focus on our conservative policy solutions that empower Americans of all colors and all backgrounds, we will win a resounding victory against Hillary Clinton this fall.”