Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lexington Republicans seemed to turn on Williams, to Galbraith

For a 5-minute audio report from Christie Craig, on a similar phenomenon in other precincts, click here.

By Lauren Forsythe
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Gov. Steve Beshear has been the leading candidate throughout the race for governor, but the least likely winner of the election made his voice known on the south side of Lexington. 

Independent Gatewood Galbraith seemed to steal some votes away from the Republican nominee, state Sen. David Williams, based on interviews at two South Lexington precincts, Merrick at the Tates Creek Christian Church and Southview at the First Assembly Church of God. 

There was one clear pattern among Republicans — Gatewood Galbraith.

“I voted for Mr. Galbraith because I was not satisfied with David Williams and I am certainly not satisfied with Beshear,” said Melissa Thompson, 30, who identified herself as a very conservative Republican attorney.

Galbraith has put many blunt views out on the table, from legalizing marijuana to raising the average salary paid by companies that get state incentives, and that’s why Mike Hassloch, 57, voted for Galbraith.

“He’s the most honest guy in the race, in my view,” Hassloch said. He said he is a moderate Republican, but “I haven’t voted for a Republican in almost 25 years.”

Other voters like David Hollingsworth, 60, a retiree and conservative Republican, said that he didn’t necessarily want Galbraith to win, he just wants Republicans to put a better candidate on the ballot. He said he voted Galbraith “out of pure protest.”

Ron Wedding, the judge for precinct 71, calls himself a conservative Republican, but he said his party didn’t put up a very strong candidate.

Wedding said he voted for Galbraith “because I didn’t think we had a strong enough Republican candidate. … Plus, he’s a local celebrity.” Galbraith, a Lexington lawyer, has run in most elections for statewide constitutional office since 1983.

Out of seven Republicans interviewed, four said they voted for Galbraith, and the three who voted for Williams weren’t necessarily happy about it.

“I just don’t think that Beshear has done that much progress; especially with the way the public expenditures have been going. I don’t necessarily believe that David Williams was that great of a choice either,” said attorney Perry Greer, 28. “I don’t think that many people were happy with the choices and you just make your selection with the choices that you have.”

Two other Republican voters said it was time for a change. Jan Slay, 55, is a retail consignment shop manager who calls herself a very conservative Republican.  She said she voted a straight GOP ticket.

“I looked at some key issues I like in each candidate,” she said. “Pro-life was one, smaller government was one.” Harry Stratton was the most outspoken.

“I don’t like the direction of our country, and I think that our state politics is imbedded with the way our country is going,” Stratton said. “We are in debt, education is last in the damn 50 states, bankrupt, we got such nepotism in Frankfort it’s ridiculous, you got a puppet governor that’s led by his cronies, you’ve had two Republican governors in the last 50 years in Kentucky.”

Of the current state of the Kentucky economy, Stratton said, “It’s nothing against Beshear, it’s nothing against anybody, but if you continue to do things the same way, you’ll get the same results.”

Before Ernie Fletcher took office in 2003 the previous seven governors were Democrats.  Stratton hopes for change soon, but he said there was no doubt in his mind as he went to vote today that Beshear would win, calling state government “a damn dictatorship.”

All six Democrats interviewed at the polls voted for the incumbent governor. They cited his adequacy and experience.

“I kind of like the way the direction of the state is going, said retired sportswriter Dickie Baldwin, “and to be perfectly honest I just don’t care for David Williams.”

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