Whitesburg KY

Beshear, Fletcher dominate primary election in Letcher

The results of Letcher County’s primary election mirrored those recorded in most of Kentucky’s other 119 counties as Democrat Steven L. Beshear and incumbent Republican Ernie Fletcher easily won their party’s nomination for governor.

Beshear and running mate Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard actually did much better in Letcher County than they did in the rest of Kentucky, capturing 56.8 percent of the vote here (1,136) to the 29.4 percent (588 votes) gathered by their closest rivals, Louisville businessman William Bruce Lunsford and his running mate, Attorney General Gregory Stumbo of Prestonsburg. Statewide, Beshear/Mongiardo defeated Lunsford/Stumbo by a margin of 41 percent to 21.4 percent.

Fletcher also did better in Letcher County than he did in the rest of Kentucky, beating former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup here by a margin of 59.9 percent (400 votes) to 26.9 percent (180 votes). Fletcher got 51 percent of the vote statewide to Northup’s 36.5 percent.

Beshear/Mongiardo won all but three of Letcher County’s precincts, losing only in Haymond, Baker (Hemphill), and Millstone. Fletcher and his running mate, Robbie Rudolph, carried every precinct but one here. The Fleming precinct reported a 5-5 tie between Fletcher/ Rudolph and Northup and her running mate, Jeff Hoover.

Former Lt. Governor Steven L. Henry and his running mate, Renee T. True, had 111 votes, or 5.6 percent, to lead the list of others seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination here. Rep. Jody Richards, Kentucky’s speaker of the house, got 77 votes here. Gatewood Galbraith received votes from 69 Letcher Democrats. Otis Hensley, from neighboring Harlan County, got 19 votes.

Western Kentucky businessman Billy Harper finished third in the Republican primary here, getting 88 votes, or 13.2 percent.

In other Democratic primary races here, eventual statewide winner S. Bruce Hendrickson got the nod here for Secretary of State, picking up 606 votes to 526 for Dick Robinson and 455 for Madonna J. White. In the race for Attorney General, statewide winner Jack Conway defeated Robert V. Bullock here, 1,035 votes to 598. In the Democratic primary for State Treasurer, L.J. “Todd” Hollenbach got 594 votes to 454 for Jack D. Wood, 358 for Mike Weaver, and 170 for Patrick R. Dunmire. In the race for Commissioner of Agriculture here, eventual statewide winner David Lynn Williams defeated David Neville, 943 votes to 600.

Republicans in Letcher County favored two candidates who didn’t win their races statewide.

In the race for Attorney General, state prosecutor Tim Lee got 261 votes in Letcher County compared with 147 for Stan Lee, a far-right wing state representative from Fayette County. Phillip Kimball got 77 votes here, while Jon Larson got 56.

In the race for State Treasurer, Letcher County Republicans overwhelmingly supported Rep. Brandon D. Smith of Hazard, who got 259 votes here. Eventual statewide winner Melinda L. Wheeler got 133 votes here, while Lonnie Napier got 122. Ken Upchurch was the choice of 51 voters here.

Former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer easily won the race for Commissioner of Agriculture in Letcher County by defeating Don Stosberg, 573 votes to 49.

Because Beshear, a former lieutenant governor, and Fletcher each won more than 40 percent of their party’s vote, Letcher County was saved from the expense of a runoff election in June.

Voter turnout was lower in Letcher County than it was in the rest of Kentucky last week. Only 2,000 of Letcher County’s 12,766 Democrats (15.7 percent) went to the polls. Republicans here did a little bit better, as 19.4 percent (688) of the party’s 3,441 voters registered here cast ballots.

The statewide turnout was 21 percent.

One unusual incident occurred at the polls here last week when workers at the Oven Fork Senior Citizens Center were startled to find a naked elderly man asleep on a couch when they arrived to open the polls. The man was a transient who had gotten lost while traveling through the area and found the door open at the polling place for Upper Cumberland, police said. The man was arrested and charged with trespassing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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