PHOENIX — Things went as expected for Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday, as he emerged the winner in Arizona’s presidential preference election.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz fell short of clinching the state, taking just 20 percent of votes. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race in March after losing in his home state to the billionaire, received a big chunk of Maricopa County votes.
Trump, the Republican front-runner, has led Arizona in the polls for months.
As of 11 p.m. Arizona time, Cruz was up in Utah, with 3 percent of votes accounted for.
The New York billionaire held several rallies in Arizona in the buildup to Tuesday’s vote. One event in Fountain Hills drew thousands of supporters, despite protesters blocking one of the only roads leading to the town.
For hours, the protesters — about two dozen in total — parked their cars in the middle of the road, unfurling banners reading “Dump Trump” and “Must Stop Trump,” and chanting “Trump is hate.” Traffic was backed up for miles, with drivers honking in fury.
A Trump rally in Tucson was marred by violence after an Air Force sergeant allegedly assaulted a protester.
Trump has become a source of contention for both those outside and inside the GOP as of late. While he continues to lead the delegate count, a group of Republicans — including an Arizona congressman — are reportedly working to halt his campaign.
Tuesday’s vote does not lock the nomination for Trump, but Arizona’s 58 delegates — given in a winner-take-all format — certainly didn’t hurt. He widened his gap over Cruz and moved within 500 delegates of winning the nomination outright.
The other GOP candidate, John Kasich, finished in a distant third in the polls. He was the only candidate from either party to not hold a rally in Arizona prior to Tuesday’s vote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.