Democrat candidates won the election in Letcher County Tuesday for every office but, mirroring almost exactly the choices of Kentucky voters statewide.
With only 22 percent of Letcher County voters bothering to go to the polls, some of the results were closer than expected. But in the end, county voters gave the nod to the Democrats running for the offices of governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor of public accounts and state treasurer. The office won by a Republican here and in Kentucky Tuesday was commissioner of agriculture.
Unofficial election results from Letcher County show incumbent Steven L. Beshear won the governor’s race by a margin of 444 votes. Beshear had 1,810 votes, Republican David Williams had 1,366 and Independent Gatewood Galbraith had 386.
The race for secretary of state was won by Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with 2,162 votes. Republican Bill Johnson tallied 1,230 votes.
Incumbent Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, won Letcher County with a total of 1,934. Republican Todd P’Pool had 1,462 votes.
In the race for auditor of public accounts, Adam H. Edelen, a Democrat, had 1,927 votes. Republican John T. Kemper III garnered 1,313 votes.
In the closest race in Letcher County, Democrat L.J. “Todd” Hollenbach won the state treasurer’s race by only 51 votes over Republican K. C. Crosbie. Hollenbach totaled 1,604 votes and Crosbie had 1,553. Libertarian Kenneth C. Moell man Jr. garnered 171 votes.
In the race for commissioner of agriculture, James R. Comer became the only Republican candidate to win Letcher County with 2,305 votes compared to 1,136 for Democrat Robert “Bob” Farmer.
Statewide, Beshear easily overcame challenges from Williams and Galbraith. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Beshear had 438,184 votes or 56 percent, to 271,257 votes for Williams or 35 percent. Galbraith had 70,244 votes or 9 percent.
Williams, the state Senate president, and Galbraith, an attorney in his fifth run for governor, campaigned on claims Beshear didn’t do enough to create jobs in a state where one in 10 workers is unemployed. Beshear countered by emphasizing that Kentucky was emerging stronger from the downturn.
In his concession speech, Williams said he plans to report for duty in Frankfort on Wednesday as “a new and improved” Senate leader.
“My conviction and my faith has been made stronger by the effort that I’ve gone through” he said. “… I feel I’m a better man for this experience.”
Democrats have lost only two Kentucky governor’s races since 1950, and Beshear kept the win streak going, predicting on the campaign trail that he would join West Virginia’s Early Ray Tomblin as the second Democrat to win a governor’s race this year.
Attorney General Conway won re-election Tuesday night by defeating a Republican prosecutor who tried to turn the race into a referendum on federal issues — including the national health care law and the incumbent’s refusal to challenge it.
With 57 percent of precincts reporting, Conway had 351,559, or 57 percent of the vote, to P’Pool’s 266,625, or 43 percent.
In the only Kentucky race won by a Republican James Comer, a beef cattle farmer, defeated Democrat Bob Farmer, a marketing specialist with no farming experience, for agriculture commissioner in a campaign that highlighted Comer’s familiarity with Kentucky farming issues.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Comer had 457,231, or 63 percent of the vote, to Farmer’s 263,423, or 37 percent.
One of Comer’s ads featured an old stand-up comedy routine by Farmer that poked fun at eastern Kentucky residents. Farmer joked that the region “is a place where cars are on blocks and houses are on wheels.” The ad said Farmer “insults Kentuckians” and that Comer is a “real farmer.”
In the race for secretary of state, newcomer Alison Lundergran Grimes defeated Republican Bill Johnson in a race highlighted by their differences over whether Kentuckians should have to present photo identification before voting.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Grimes had 429,915, or 61 percent of the vote, to Johnson’s 270,232, or 39 percent.
Grimes is a Lexington lawyer and the daughter of former state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan.
Republican opponent K.C. Crosbie kept the race for state treasurer close but incumbent Democrat Todd Hollenbach’s margin in Louisville was too much for the Lexington councilwoman, who also had to deal with a third-party candidate who attracted conservative voters.
With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Hollenbach had 366,905, or 49 percent of the vote, to Crosbie’s 341,267, or 46 percent. Libertarian Ken Moellman had 34,897, or 5 percent.
Crosbie outraised Hollenbach nearly 2-to-1 and ran TV ads accusing the Democrat of failing to balance the state’s checkbook.
Compiled from Mountain Eagle and Associated Press reports.