Mike Huckabee and Hillary Rodham Clinton won their parties' primaries in Arkansas on Tuesday, boosted by their strong ties to the state.
Clinton, who served as the state's first lady for 12 years, got help from continued affection for her husband and former Democratic governor Bill Clinton. Huckabee, the state's former governor and Southern Baptist minister, enjoyed widespread support among the state's evangelical voters.
Huckabee looked to Arkansas and other Bible Belt states to help his White House hopes against Republican front-runners John McCain and Mitt Romney.
"I think to vote for yourself for president of the United States is pretty overwhelming," Huckabee said as he cast a ballot in North Little Rock.
The vote was complicated by severe weather. Tornadoes touched down in several parts of the state, causing injuries. At least one polling location had to close and another was converted into a tornado shelter while the polls were still open.
Storms knocked out electricity at Huckabee's official party, but a generator provided power for lights and big-screen television screens showing election returns.
Jack Somers, 26, and Chris Schandevel, 24, watched early primary returns with a handmade, cardboard "Huck's Army" sign at their feet.
"We'll do whatever it takes to get him elected," Schandevel said.