Reuters International

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to the congregation at Greater Saint Paul Baptist Church in Oakland, California, United States, June 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico Democratic primary on Sunday, moving her a step closer to prevailing over her rival, Bernie Sanders, in the fight for her party's presidential nomination.

Clinton was the projected winner over Sanders in the U.S. island territory, according to NBC News.

The win gives the former secretary of state a boost ahead of a big night on Tuesday, when six states, including New Jersey and California, will hold nominating contests.

Clinton is hoping to cross the threshold of 2,382 delegates needed to secure the nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election as early as 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, when polls close in New Jersey.

She and Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, are in a dead heat in California. But delegates in the state are awarded on a proportional basis, so even a loss there for Clinton would not be likely to stop her from securing her party's nomination and a likely general election contest with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Ahead of Puerto Rico's nominating contest, Clinton had been just 60 delegates shy of clinching the nomination, when including superdelegates, who consist of party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors.

Sanders is bracing for a prolonged fight that will run into the Democratic convention at the end of July.

Networks reported huge voter turnout and long lines in Puerto Rico, with just over 430 polling stations open compared with over 2,000 in 2008.

The island is suffering through a severe debt crisis, which has hampered basic government services.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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