Ky. voters pick Mitt Romney, snub Obama again
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky voters made Republican Mitt Romney their choice for president on Tuesday, again snubbing President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly come up short in the state.
With 12 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 124,033 votes or 57 percent, to 88,978 votes for Obama or 41 percent.
With the Kentucky victory, Romney picks up the state’s eight electoral votes.
Obama has long been an unpopular political figure in Kentucky, having lost the state in the 2008 primary and general elections.
This year, Obama yielded Kentucky to Romney after a poor showing in the Democratic primary. Some 42 percent of Kentucky Democrats marked their ballots “uncommitted” even though Obama was the only name on the ballot.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler will have to overcome the drag from Obama at the top of the ballot to win a fifth term in Congress. The strategy of Republican challenger Andy Barr was to build the 6th District race on the president, who one political scientist described as an albatross around Chandler’s neck.
The Chandler-Barr matchup has been Kentucky’s most high-profile race, with around-the-clock TV ads in the Lexington area. Five other congressional races are on the ballot, though none are considered competitive. Voters also will choose several judges and prosecutors, as well as ratify or reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee Kentuckians the right to hunt and fish.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes expected a record number of voters to cast ballots in Kentucky.
Latonia truck driver Ed Talley, 61, a lifelong Democrat who changed his registration to Republican earlier this year, voted for Romney. The deciding factor: Disappointment in Obama.
“I thought the guy would shine. He’s the first black president, and everything else, but he got his chance to shine and just bombed,” Talley said.
Murray State University student Shawanta Jones said she voted for Obama. The 20-year-old Democrat said she has been impressed with president’s handling of the economy.
“I mean, I live in it, and everybody knows it’s so out of whack right now,” Jones said. “It’s starting to not only affect me, but my family.”
By Tuesday afternoon, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office had received 130 calls dealing with procedural questions, complaints about voting machines, even three allegations of vote-buying or selling in Clay, Knox and Wolfe counties.
Ricky McKenna, a 22-year-old Republican who works at IGA in Morehead, voted for Romney, saying he was better for the economy. McKenna also voted in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment to protect hunting, an initiative of the National Rifle Association.
“I voted to keep the constitutional right for hunting the same, because we should have the right to hunt when we want to,” McKenna said.
Chandler and Barr are in a rematch for the 6th District seat. Chandler won the last go-around by fewer than 700 votes.
Combined, Chandler and Barr have spent some $4 million, with most of that going to mean-spirited TV ads that have been running around-the-clock since late summer. Outside groups have spent a similar amount on the race.
Estelle Sizemore, a 52-year-old jeweler from Richmond and a Democrat, chose Chandler, citing his family’s history of holding elected offices and work in Kentucky.
“Andy Barr shines the shoes of Ben Chandler. His family has been in public service for decades and that’s we need here,” Sizemore said.
In other Kentucky congressional races, Republican U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie and Hal Rogers were re-elected on Tuesday.
With 3 percent of precincts reporting, Whitfield had 6,764 votes or 62 percent, to 4,124 votes for Charles Hatchett or 37 percent.
With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Guthrie had 17,968 votes or 61 percent, to 9,576 votes for Democrat David Williams or 32 percent.
With 22 percent of precincts reporting, Rogers had 58,380 votes or 79 percent, to 15,337 votes for Democrat Kenneth Stepp or 20 percent
Also, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth also was re-elected.
With 27 percent of precincts reporting, Yarmuth had 59,449 votes or 61 percent, to 36,102 votes for Republican Brooks Wicker or 37 percent
And in Kentucky’s 4th District, where U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis resigned, tea party Republican Thomas Massie was expected to win his race against Democrat Bill Adkins, a northern Kentucky attorney.
In state legislative races, Democrats hoped to cut into the Republican majority in the state Senate. And Republicans expected to pick up several House seats, though it was unlikely they would win enough to take majority control from Democrats.
Kentucky had 47 contested House races and 10 contested Senate races on the ballot.
In eastern Kentucky, Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott and a challenger, Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo, were in a heated race.