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  State pols miffed Edwards quit while polls were open here
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Last EditedUser 13  Mar 04, 2004 12:35pm
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MediaNewspaper - San Francisco Chronicle
News DateThursday, March 4, 2004 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionCalifornia Democrats were still heading to the polls late Tuesday afternoon when networks announced John Kerry as the likely Democratic nominee -- and John Edwards as a has-been.

By 5 p.m., a full three hours before polls closed in the nation's most populous state, CNN reported that Edwards was expected to drop out of the Democratic presidential race today. The announcement surprised party insiders and angered some supporters who hoped the North Carolina senator would grab enough of the state's 370 delegates to keep his hopes alive.

"Naturally, from a California perspective, we'd rather (the campaign) waited,'' said Democrat Carole Migden, who chairs the state Board of Equalization and endorsed Edwards during his California swing last week.

Migden, like many Edwards backers, had argued that the senator could attract independents in California, the nearly 1 in 5 voters eligible to request a Democratic ballot at the polls.

Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane -- a former spokesman for Kerry -- was in his Richmond District polling place in San Francisco when word hit about Edwards' pending withdrawal.

"People started talking,'' Lehane said.

"I think it made a difference,'' said Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California. "For a lot of people, it gave them the impression that their vote was irrelevant, and that wasn't likely to convince them to vote.''

Lehane would rather that the media wait to break such news until after the polls close, especially "if there's a slight chance that things should be different."

The spokesman for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign noted that on election night that year, "We had Florida called three different ways.... It seems to me there's no downside in waiting."

In any event, the Kerry-Edwards race in California was no Bush-Gore cliffhanger. Exit polls showed that nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters in the state said they'd chosen their presidential candidate weeks ago -- though
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