While Democrats outnumber Republicans in Letcher County, 11,921 to 3,751, Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are expected to easily get the majority of votes here when county residents go to the polls next Tuesday to cast their ballots in the race for the Offi ces President and Vice President of the United State.
In 2008, when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden easily won election to the White House nationwide, 65 percent of Letcher County voters selected Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and his running mate, Sarah Palin of Alaska. The final tally here was 5,367 for McCain/Palin and 2,623 for Obama/Biden in a race that attracted about half the county’s registered voters.
Voters here are also expected to easily elect incumbent Fifth District U.S. Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers to another term in Congress. Rogers is opposed by perennial Democratic candidate Kenneth S. Stepp.
Next Tuesday’s election will also featured contested races between incumbent Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II, a Republican, who is opposed by Democrat Frank Riley.
Letcher County voters will also be able to affect the outcome of one of the state’s most hotly contested races, the battle for Justice of the Supreme Court (7th District) between incumbent Justice Will T. Scott of Pikeville and present Court of Appeal Justice Janet L. Stumbo of Prestonsburg.
Also on the ballot are contested local races for seats on the Whitesburg City Council and the Jenkins City Council.
In Whitesburg, challengers Matthew Thomas Butler, Gary “Gabo” Collins and Tom Sexton will try to take seats away from incumbents James W. “Jimmy” Bates, Larry D. Everidge, Sharon Kaye Sexton, Sheila Page Shortt, John Williams and Robin Bowen Watko.
In Jenkins, challengers Robert Adams, Garnet Bentley, Roy Triplett and Kyle Walker will try to wrest control of the city council away from incumbents Chuck Anderson, Terry Braddock, Richard Damron, Carol A. Litts, and Rebecca Terrell Amburgey.
Other contested races involve two seats on the Letcher County Board of Education. In the race for the seat for Education District Two, incumbent John Spicer is being challenged by Robert Kiser. Meanwhile, Education District Four member Mike Harris of Cowan is being challenged by Melinda “Mendy” Boggs of Eolia and former school board member and Letcher County magistrate Bob Lewis of Partridge.
A race for six seats on the Fleming-Neon City Council will also be on the ballot, but none of the positions is being contested. Challenger Linda Cantrell is poised to join incumbents Robert Champion, James D. Collins, Thomas D. “Tom” Haynes and Trey Quillen on the council, as not enough candidates filed to make it a contested race.
Running unopposed here are 29th District State Senator Johnny Ray Turner, 92nd District State Representative John Short, 94th District State Representative Leslie Combs, Letcher Circuit Clerk Margaret Nichols, District Three Letcher County School Board Member Will Smith, and Jenkins Independent School Board Members Tracy Goff and Paulette Sexton.
Voters here will also decide on a constitutional amendment which asks, “Are you in favor of amending the Kentucky constitution to state that the citizens of Kentucky have the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject to laws and regulations that promote conservation and preserve the future of hunting and fishing, and to state that public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife?”
Because of hotly contested races elsewhere in Kentucky, including a race between incumbent Sixth District U.S. Representative Ben Chandler, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Lexington attorney Andy Barr, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes predicts a record number of voters will cast ballots November 6, with statewide voter turnout likely between 62 and 64 percent.
“Voters have many important decisions to make on Election Day,” said Grimes. “I urge all eligible Kentuckians to be a part of the process and make their voices heard.”
Grimes said that to date, absentee voting activity is on par with the 2008 General Election. With approximately 130,000 more registered voters compared with 2008, Grimes predicts a record number of ballots will be cast in the election.
Polls open at 6 a.m. next Tuesday (November 6) and close at 6 p.m.