HAZARD — The primary elections in Kentucky were held Tuesday to determine which candidates will move on to the general election in November. Political analysts have long said that low voter turnout tends to favor the incumbent. This year’s primary seems to prove that theory. Most of the poles in Perry County reported about 10 percent turnout. Part of the reason for these low numbers could have something to do with the fact that Republicans already voted for their Presidential candidate back in March during the caucus.
In the race for State Representative District 84, Fitz Steele was the winner with 69 percent of the vote. His challenger, Kenneth Hall, received the remaining 31 percent. The 84th District includes all of Perry County and a large portion of Harlan County. Steele was first elected to this position in 2008. Chris Fugate is on the ballot as Steele’s Republican competition in November.
Republicans did not vote for their Presidential nominee on Tuesday. Kentucky’s Democratic primary, however, turned out to be one of the most heated throughout this entire election season. In Perry County, Bernie Sanders won easily with nearly 60 percent of the vote in comparison to Hillary Clinton’s 30 percent. The story was different statewide. Clinton was declared the winner of Kentucky with 46.76 percent of the vote, barely edging out Sanders, who earned 46.33 percent. This election is likely to be challenged. Folks who think their votes do not count should take a heavy look at this race. Clinton finished with 212,550 votes. Sanders received 210,626. Throughout the entire state only 1,924 separated first place from second place. If Bernie Sanders could have attracted 17 more votes in each county, he would have been Tuesday’s winner in Kentucky.
Rand Paul will defend his seat in the United States Senate in November against Democratic challenger Jim Gray. Gray is currently serving as mayor of Lexington. Paul claimed 85 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, whereas Gray earned 59 percent on the Democratic side.
Hal Rogers was re-elected as congressman for the 19th time. In Perry County, folks who are 35 or younger have never been represented in congress by anyone other than Hal Rogers. There is no Democrat contender in the race for congress. Therefore, the primary win assures that Rogers will serve another term. Rogers finished with 82 percent of the vote. The other 18 percent went to the challenger, John Burke.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.