Byline: Jeff Zeleny and Rick Pearson
MILWAUKEE _ The voters of Wisconsin handed Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts a tepid victory Tuesday, slowing his surge in the Democratic presidential campaign and reviving the candidacy of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina as the race to challenge President Bush narrowed to a two-man fight.
In the final days of the primary contest, as Kerry basked in a dominating series of coast-to-coast wins, the independent-minded electorate here listened to Edwards' message and discovered they liked it.
The narrow verdict injected a new dose of uncertainty into the race as the nomination battle rolls on to March 2, when 10 states are likely to have the final say in a Super Tuesday showdown.
With 94 percent of the precincts counted, Kerry led Edwards, 40 percent to 35 percent. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who had once staked his hopes on Wisconsin, collected only 18 percent, and his distant third-place finish effectively extinguished his candidacy.
Throughout the Democratic fight for the party's nomination, which began one month ago in Iowa, Edwards had craved a head-to-head match with Kerry. While Kerry had hoped to keep his sights trained on Bush, he dismissed suggestions …