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Donald Trump wins Maryland Republican presidential primary

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump swept the primaries in Maryland and four other states Tuesday to further solidify his lead in the Republican presidential nominating contest.

“As far as I'm concerned, it's over,” the billionaire New York real estate developer said in New York.

He described himself as the presumptive Republican nominee, and claimed he had squashed his remaining opponents: “There's no way these two guys could win.”

Trump had criticized the Republican establishment and his two remaining challengers in recent days for trying to keep him from collecting a majority of delegates before the GOP convention in July.

But decisive victories in Maryland, the second-biggest prize available Tuesday, and delegate-rich Pennsylvania helped the businessman and reality TV star in his march to garner the necessary 1,237 delegates to avoid a floor fight in Cleveland.

“As far as I'm concerned, it's over,” Trump said during a New York City press conference that followed a victory speech. He decribed himself his party’s presumptive nominee, and claimed he squashed his two remaining opponents. “There's no way these two guys could win.”

Ohio Gov. John Kaisch and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced a loose alliance on Monday to draw delegate votes away from Trump in future contests.  Before voting began Tuesday, Trump was poised to sweep all of the day's five primaries, including those in Rhode Island and Delaware. 

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Trump (54 percent) wom Maryland comfortably ahead of Kasich (23 percent) and Cruz (19 percent).

Kevin Fealy, an unemployed veteran voting alongside his mother and 5-year-old daughter in northern Anne Arundel County on Tuesday, said initially dismissed Trump's candidacy. But he came to appreciate the novice politician's "loud and proud" solutions for the country and his approach to the race. 

"When he first entered it, I was like, 'no way. This is joke,' " Fealy said. "He can't really be doing this. Then, he kept talking, and it made a lot of sense."

Fealy's mother, a cashier at Wal-Mart, said she's watched the area's lower and middle class struggle since the recession hit, and she doesn't trust a traditional politician to reverse course.

"I have voted so many times and then been disappointed," said Mary Heflin, 60. "I don't think Trump will disappoint. I believe that he's going to do what he said he's going to do. I'm ready for a change." 

The rancorous Republican contest left some moderate Maryland Republicans frustrated they didn't see a candidate who reflected their values.

"Trump talks a good game on immigration, but he's got a lot of other issues," disabled housewife Rhonda Godwin, 66, said outside her Dundalk precinct. She's a registered Republican, but she said she's voted for Democrats before. She didn't bother voting for a presidential nominee Tuesday.

No one on the ballot spoke to her concerns about curbing illegal immigration, a reasonable plan to lower her taxes or create better access to health care, she said.

"I'm uncommitted," Godwin said. "I don't think we have any good choices this year."

Democrat Maria Linthicum, 60, voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in part because she believes the former secretary of state has a better chance of beating Trump in a General Election. 

"I'm scared of Trump, and that's all there is to that," said Linthicum, a retiree.

The Republican front-runner held two rallies in Maryland in the last week, in the state's Republican strongholds of Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

In recent weeks Trump has swung from bombastic to conciliatory. He promised after his landslide win in the New York primary last week to act more presidential, only to revert to the same rhetoric.

"If a Republican gets in like Donald Trump, our country will be better," said Peggy Brzowsky, a bus assistant for the Baltimore county School system. "It bothers me that he doesn't project himself as presidential, but I like the issues he talks about."

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