NEW YORK – Al Sharpton (search) struck a defiant tone and vowed to continue campaigning as his presidential run was headed for a lackluster finish on his home turf on Tuesday.
Sharpton, mired in single digits in New York's Democratic primary, battled Rep. Dennis Kucinich for third place, far behind winner Sen. John Kerry (search) and second-place finisher Sen. John Edwards (search). Sharpton said he would "sit down and discuss" whether to remain in the race.
With 95 percent of New York precincts reporting, Kerry had 388,535 votes or 60 percent; Edwards had 128,970 votes or 20 percent; Sharpton had 53,445 votes or 8 percent; and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio had 34,860 votes or 5 percent.
The poor showing in the presidential primary was viewed as a major disappointment for Sharpton, who garnered 25 percent of the vote when he ran for U.S. Senate in New York in 1994 and 32 percent in the Democratic mayoral primary in 1997.
Sharpton claims that 40 percent of the state's black voters and 50 percent in the city voted for him. Associated Press exit polls show Sharpton got a third of the black vote in the state and 40 percent in the city. The voting patterns of black voters in the city were subject to a sampling error margin of 11 percentage points.
The high numbers, he said, are because black voters do not want to be taken for granted.
"What we have seen here tonight is clearly the days of delivery politics are over," Sharpton said.
"Most of the blacks in the city of New York said we will not be delivered to anyone and voted for us to be president of the United States."
Sharpton, a civil rights activist, has never held elected public office.
On Monday, two statewide polls, from Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion and the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, had Sharpton's support from New York Democrats at 5 percent.
The director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Maurice Carroll, said Sharpton's poor showing in New York would hurt his viability as a playmaker in the Democratic Party but would not be fatal.
"This doesn't mean he is going to disappear, but he will have to rebuild his strength a little bit before people take him serious again," Carroll said.
Sharpton said he was going to stay in the presidential race to push the urban agenda, which includes employment, police brutality and health care.
"We will make sure that agenda is regarded and respected," he said.
Sharpton had been looking to the presidential race to help him supplant his mentor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as the nation's most influential black leader. Jackson, who twice ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, finished second in the New York primary in 1988 with 37 percent of the vote.
But unlike Jackson's groundbreaking campaigns, which made him an establishment figure within the Democratic Party, Sharpton's candidacy has foundered, wracked by mounting debt, staff defections and mismanagement.
At his headquarters in Harlem Tuesday night, Sharpton said his campaign will regroup and then focus on Florida for its primary on March 9.