4 Ky. Appalachian counties proud they went for Obama

Lexington Herald-LeaderNovember 6, 2008 

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lonesome amidst a swath of Republican red on the political map of Kentucky are four Eastern Kentucky counties painted blue by President-elect Barack Obama.

Republican John McCain swept 112 of the Bluegrass State's 120 counties, but not the Appalachian counties of Elliott, Menifee, Wolfe and Rowan. Those four also voted Democratic in the 2004 presidential election, but so did seven other neighboring counties.

This time, the only Kentucky counties that voted for Obama besides those four were the two most populous, Jefferson and Fayette, and Henderson and Hancock in Western Kentucky.

Political leaders in the four Eastern Kentucky counties said the primary reasons for Obama's success in their area were his message of change and the prevalent dislike for outgoing Republican President George W. Bush.

Obama's race wasn't a factor for their mostly white constituents, they said.

In Elliott County, 61 percent of voters supported the first African-American to win the presidency. That compares to 70 percent who supported Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

The latest Census Bureau figures say the county has two blacks, but Democratic Judge-Executive David Blair said "a few more" have moved to the county in recent years, primarily to work at a state prison.

Blair said Obama's race wasn't "mentioned at all, not that much really.

"When it was, they would say he's biracial, that his mother was white."

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced Obama in Elliott County this spring, getting 90 percent of the vote. Still, contempt for the Bush administration was stronger than unease with Obama, Blair said.

"We have a strong Democratic Party here that does not think much of Bush and Dick Cheney and what they did to the economy," Blair said.

Elliott has the highest registration of Democrats in the state — 4,799 Democrats to 165 Republicans.

State House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said Obama's message of change "resonated with the folks of Elliott County."

Adkins said, "I know that he would be more welcome in Elliott County than Bush."

Read the full story at Kentucky.com.

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