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Published May 10, 2016
Voters in West Virginia and Nebraska are casting primary ballots on Tuesday, but the only competitive presidential race that remains in the Democratic contest in West Virginia.
With Nebraska's Democrats having caucused in March — giving Bernie Sanders a comfortable win over Hillary Clinton — the state's Republicans went to the polls Tuesday with their party's presidential race all but sewn up by businessman Donald Trump. Voters must decide several other races, though.
In West Virginia, the headline race is between Clinton and Sanders, with Trump having cleared the GOP field of rivals in Indiana last week. West Virginians are also voting in a Democratic showdown for governor, a state Supreme Court race and other contests.
Here are some voters' thoughts:
Don Fricke, a 76-year-old dentist from Lincoln, Nebraska, said he voted for Trump because he's a political outsider. Fricke said he wants a candidate who will work to lower taxes and defend the country by strengthening the military, and he sees those qualities in Trump.
"He's got enough guts to change things in Washington so they don't keep doing things the way they've been doing them," Fricke said. "Obviously the others have dropped out now. I think one of the others, Cruz or Rubio, would have been OK too."
Fricke said he thinks Trump has "a very good chance" against Clinton in the general election.
"Hillary's got too much baggage," Fricke said.
Joe Jensen, 63, of Lincoln, said he voted for Ted Cruz over Trump even though Cruz dropped out last week because he sees the senator from Texas as more trustworthy and a reliable social conservative.
"I still haven't made up my mind yet if I can vote for Trump in the general election," Jensen said outside his polling place at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. "He's a liar. He changes his opinions. I believe he's really a Democrat dressed in Republican clothes. I'd only vote for him because Hillary is even worse."
Jensen, an evangelical Christian, said he sees Cruz as "a believer in the Constitution" who fervently opposes abortion. He said he also liked Marco Rubio and John Kasich.
On the timing of Nebraska's primary, he said: "I wish we had been before Indiana. But I guess I don't mind it. Since we're late, we didn't have to listen to all of the ads."
Democrat Joe Hall, a highway engineer from Alum Creek, West Virginia, said he voted for Sanders instead of Clinton.
Like some others who cast ballots Tuesday, he said he felt like he was "voting for the lesser of two evils."
Hall, 55, was critical of Clinton's use of private emails while she was secretary of state and her response to the September 2012 attacks on a diplomatic compound that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Hall said he doesn't agree with all of Sanders' stances, including Sanders' support for abortion rights. But he said he likes Sanders' economic ideas.
"He's not a perfect candidate to me," Hall said. "I just can't vote for Hillary."
Chris Wilder has worked for nine years as an electrician doing repair work at coal mines in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and now, West Virginia.
After voting for Trump on Tuesday in Madison, the 30-year-old said "we need someone in there that supports coal."
Wilder said he received a layoff notice last week that was later postponed, allowing him to work this week. But he said his future is unknown.
"My job's hanging in the balance right now," he said. "I've thought about leaving the state."
Thousands of miners in central Appalachia have received layoffs notices in the past year.
At campaign rallies, Trump has promised to help coal miners. Wilder said that "everything he says he's going to do, I'd like to see him do. We really need somebody in here for coal. We need coal back. We need jobs. I think that's the best choice."
Hours after taking an advanced placement government exam, Hurricane High School student Tevin Robinson voted for the first time at an elementary school in nearby Scott Depot, West Virginia.
The 18-year-old, who plans to study economics at Columbia University, voted for Clinton saying he doesn't like Sanders' proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. He says he wants a higher minimum wage, but not that high.
Robinson says that economically, Clinton "has a more stable plan than her counterparts. I believe that she has the ability and the background to take the president to a better level than it has been before."
Anne and Jim Ashley, of Scott Depot, said they voted for Trump after initially backing Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination.
Anne Ashley, a 66-year-old substitute teacher's aide, said she thinks Trump has some good ideas for the country.
"I think he is becoming more aware of the gravity of becoming president and becoming more composed."
Her husband, a retired telephone company worker, said he believes Trump will help create jobs. He said it's important for Trump to unify the Republican Party and to bring other candidates that ran against him into the fold.
"He thinks 'I can do it on my own,' but he's wrong," Jim Ashley said. "He's got to bring the party together. He talks about 'I don't really need them.' Well yes, he does need them."
Democrat Christopher Blackmon, a 31-year-old social worker from Charleston, West Virginia, said he is voting for Clinton because he thinks her views are more realistic.
"With all the politicians and everybody that's running, to be honest, I don't believe with everything that they all say," Blackmon said. "But when you have this choice, it's one of those things where you've got to pick the lesser of the evils, in a sense."
He said Bernie Sanders is almost trying to make everything like the "Garden of Eden."
"I think Bernie, in a sense, he wants a Utopia-type thing for America with a lot of his views," Blackmon said. "And I don't think that's realistic. I don't think that's going to happen."
Dave George, 47, said he voted for Cruz in Lincoln, Nebraska, even though Trump has effectively won the nomination. George said he wanted to make a statement against Trump with his vote.
"The man's a pig," George said outside his polling place at the Belmont Recreation Center in Lincoln. "He's a terrible human being. He's a megalomaniac, and I'm absolutely astonished he's made it to this point."
George said he was "incredibly" frustrated that the GOP primary was over by the time Nebraska's election arrived. He said he feels that moderate voices are being overshadowed, and he plans to vote for a write-in or third-party candidate in November.
"The only candidate still in the campaign is Trump, and he's a caricature," George said. "This is ridiculous."
Vicki Baines, who voted at Covenant Presbyterian Church in west Omaha, said she didn't feel great about her options in the presidential race because her favorite GOP candidates weren't even on the ballot.
"The people I related to didn't even make it to the top four," said Baines who didn't name her favorites.
Baines, 62, joked that she wrote in a fictional character for president that she could trust.
"I'm sticking with my man Pinocchio," she said.
Dorothy Burford, an 81-year-old retiree from Charleston, West Virginia, is a registered Democrat who says she voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008.
This year, she left the Democratic race for president empty because she wants to vote for Donald Trump in the fall.
She said the change dealt with how she thinks the candidates view the coal industry.
"I think Hillary was against the coal miners," Burford said. "I think Trump has a better view on how we can get the coal miners back to work."
The following Associated Press writers contributed to this report: Josh Funk in Omaha, Neb.; Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Neb.; Jonathan Mattise in Charleston, W.Va.; John Raby in Cross Lanes, W.Va.; and Claire Galofaro in Logan, W.Va.