Flat on its back for weeks, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign finally squirmed out from underneath Sen. Barack Obama tonight as the Democratic candidate from New York beat her rival in the Buckeye State, and was projected to win in Texas.
"It’s a big win," said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party and a key Clinton supporter, who’s watched with dismay and toiled to keep a Clinton coalition together as Obama’s 11 straight victories had some of his allies tiptoeing toward the panic button.
"It’s early, but what this victory (in Ohio) means is that the Democratic nomination will be on April 22nd (in Pennsylvania)," said Cryan.
Talking shortly after 11 p.m on Election Night and moments before Clinton delivered her victory speech, the state party chairman at that point conceded Obama could still win in Texas, but said it would likely be by such a narrow margin that Clinton’s projected decisive victory in Ohio would balance the deck and enable his candidate to credibly continue her trudge toward the presidency.
Shortly before 1 a.m. EST, MSNBC projected that Clinton would eke out a victory in the Lone Star State.
As for Obama, "By any reasonable standard, he’s hit a wall," said Cryan, who believes Clinton’s more aggressive style of campaigning ruffled her rival.
"If Obama can’t take this kind of pressure, imagine how he’ll do in a general election environment against the Republicans?" queried the state party chairman.
In the face of a rejuvenated Clinton, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), northeast regional co-chair for Obama,said the numbers don’t add up inher favor. The congressmanpredicted that day later, rational examination would deflate the opposition's claims of a significant campaign kickstart in Ohio and Texas, where Clinton's margin of victory did not provide her with the proportional number of delegates to lunge past Obama.
"It appears mathematically impossible for Sen. Clinton to overcome Sen. Obama’s lead," said Rothman. "More and more delegates will decide it’s time to rally behind Obama. I’m very gratified there has been a movement to join Sen. Obama, especially in Burlington, Gloucester, Camden, and Ocean counties. Sen. Obama is the strongest candidate for New Jersey and nationwide against John McCain."
Rothman said he wouldn’t presume to say how the Clinton campaign should characterize tonight’s results.
"I can simply say that I believe Sen. Obama has an elected delegate lead that will not be surpassed," said the congressman. "Superdelegates will come his way in the days and weeks to come. One night of close contests won’t change the fact that he has the most elected delegates and remains the strongest candidate."
This week, Rothman unveiled the names of Ocean County Democratic Party leaders who back Obama for president, including former Senate President John F. Russo, Sr., former Assembly Majority Leader John Paul Doyle, Pine Beach Mayor Russ Corby, Attorney and former Ocean County Prosecutor Daniel Carluccio, Chair of the Ocean County Democratic Party Finance Committee Stephen R. Leone, former President of the Toms River Democratic Club Thomas Rogers, and New Jersey Arts Council Member Judi Leone.