Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs during a rally in San Jose Friday.

Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton running neck-to-neck
Whether at Savemart in Hollister or Wal-Mart in Gilroy, local residents had no shortage of thoughts about today’s primary election.

Thanks to the earliest primary in state history, California voters will have some say in who will represent each party. In an event being billed as Super Tuesday, the state’s primary will be held in conjunction with the primaries of 23 other states.

At stake are 370 Democratic delegates and issues of national and local significance.

In what is shaping to be a historical turn of events, the primary’s outcome is likely to punch the Democratic presidential nomination ticket for either Illinois Sen. Barack Obama or New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who would be the first black or woman, respectively, to get that far.

Outside Wal-Mart in Gilroy on a chilly night last week, shopper Edward Trevino said his priority was Iraq.

“Other than that, nothing specific is bringing me out on Tuesday,” said Trevino, 36, a Democrat.

Melissa Silva, 32, of Hollister, said she’ll be voting for Clinton.

“I think she’s good for change,” Silva said.

As for the rest of the campaign, she said she doesn’t believe much of what candidates say.

“I think it’s all lies until they get into office,” Silva said.

On Monday, Art Mungaray, a salesman and Morgan Hill resident, was reading a newspaper at Scramblz Diner in Morgan Hill.

Mungaray said he was concerned with healthcare, immigration and the economy – in that order – and had already mailed his vote for Obama. The freshman senator from Illinois received his vote because he is a “man who comes from the people,” Mungaray said. In addition to being the same age, Mungaray identified with Obama on race, because both men “grew up at a time when we were getting past the race issue” and Obama “knows what it’s like to be looked down on and discriminated.”

Meanwhile, Jim Angelopoulos, owner of Scramblz and a registered independent, said he was disappointed with the “caliber of the candidates.”

“No one excites me but I’d vote for Obama if I had to vote for anybody,” he said, explaining that Obama is a choice who could help America’s image abroad.

On the Republican side, contenders Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are the frontrunners – although don’t try looking for them in California, because they’re campaigning elsewhere.

While former President Bill Clinton attended rallies for his wife in the Bay Area Monday, including stops in Sacramento, Stockton and San Francisco, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was expected make an appearance in Long Beach Monday night.

Kevin Orpeza, a Hollister resident, said he believes Obama and McCain will be the nominees.

“I think we kind of hear the same crap,” said Orpeza, referring to all the “promises” the candidates make during these elections. “They still wind up fighting with Congress.”

McCain has been the frontrunner, but in Morgan Hill there were signs – literally – of a last minute push for Romney: two makeshift Romney posters on fences along major streets.

At Wal-Mart, shopper Dio Quintero, 27, said the economy and national security were simply “not good” under the Bush Administration.

“Those are the top two issues we need to focus on,” the Salinas resident said. “But I haven’t decided who I’m voting for yet. I’m still in limbo.”

Hollister resident Jennifer Schlegel, 20, said she won’t be voting for a presidential candidate today because she doesn’t like any of her choices. The lack of health care for many Americans is her top issue, she said before entering Savemart.

“A lot of people don’t have it,” the Green Party member said, “And it’s really expensive.”

The Associated Press, Micheal Van Cassell and Sara Suddes contributed to this story.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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