A Tightening Potomac Primary?

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

They have battled in all of their home states, adopted and actual. And now Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are bringing the nominating contest to their place of business, Washington, and its neighboring states for next Tuesday's "Potomac primary."

With a vote on an economic stimulus package scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon, the two Democratic candidates are flying back to the area after a tumultuous -- but ultimately inconclusive -- night of coast-to-coast contests yesterday. They both have campaign stops scheduled in Virginia and Maryland in the days ahead.

And although both sides at one time considered the region -- Maryland and the District, especially -- to be friendly territory for Obama, Clinton advisers believe that she has enough momentum coming out of Super Tuesday to make a play in the three-state race. There are sizable blocs of African American votes in all three contests, however, and Obama has been winning large majorities of black voters in the primaries so far.

Both Clinton and Obama have spent quality time in the D.C. area, the former as first lady and during her younger professional years. But there is little evidence so far that her White House residency (or her current homestead in Kalorama) will count for much when Clinton begins campaigning here in earnest.

Home-state advantages have helped both Clinton and Obama so far. Clinton lost her real home state (Illinois) to Obama, who adopted it as a young adult. Obama lost the adopted home state where he went to law school (Massachusetts) to Clinton, who went to school as an undergraduate there. Clinton won Arkansas, where she was the state's first lady while her husband was governor. Obama lost New York, where he went to school (and which Clinton now represents).

Hawaii, where Obama grew up, has its primary on Feb. 19.

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