Heated U.S. Senate Race Comes Down To The Wire

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - After months of listening to politicians,
Kentucky voters will have their say Tuesday, turning out in what
could be record numbers for an election topped by a presidential
race and a competitive contest for U.S. Senate.

While John McCain and Barack Obama made their election-eve
pitches to voters across the country, Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch
McConnell and Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford hopscotched
Kentucky in a push to get supporters to the polls.

Secretary of State Trey Grayson said he expected 65 to 70
percent of Kentucky's 2.9 million registered voters to cast
ballots. That kind of turnout would shatter the record set in 2004.

McConnell and Lunsford, facing off in a Kentucky race that set a
new spending benchmark, spent time Monday wooing small-town crowds in western Kentucky, a region that both campaigns consider crucial.

McConnell, who had raised $17.9 million for his re-election
campaign by the end of September, told supporters Monday that he
was confident of victory.

"Our grassroots efforts are the best Kentucky has ever seen,
and we are running hard through the finish line," he said. "All
the public polls indicate that tomorrow night we will celebrate a
great win."

Lunsford, a Louisville millionaire who personally put up $5.5
million of the $7.1 million he reported to the Federal Election
Commission for the race, said Monday he senses "tremendous
momentum for change" among Kentucky voters.

"Back when I entered this race, nobody gave us a chance," he
said. "But we're in a nail-biter right now, and this is shaping up
to be one of the closest elections in Kentucky history."

Besides the presidential and Senate races, voters will fill an
open congressional seat and decide 40 state legislative races.

In Shepherdsville on Monday, first lady Laura Bush stumped on
behalf of GOP candidates from Kentucky, including congressional
hopeful Brett Guthrie. The Republican faces Democrat David Boswell
in the 2nd District, which includes the cities of Bowling Green,
Elizabethtown and Owensboro.

Guthrie, clearly pleased with the first lady's endorsement,
referred to her as "one of the most admired women in the world."

Bush also urged supporters to get like-minded voters to the

Boswell called Laura Bush "an admirable first lady." But
Boswell said the joint appearance shows Guthrie chooses to align
himself with the current administration.

"I believe Kentucky deserves a new direction," he said.

Despite Democrats outnumbering Republicans in Kentucky about 1.6
million to about 1 million, the state has voted GOP in recent
years. President Bush carried the state in the last two
presidential elections. And Republicans now hold two U.S. Senate
seats and four of six U.S. House seats.

University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss said a
major push by candidates to get their supporters to the polls will
contribute to what he also expects to be a record turnout for the

"For modern times, it's going to be the highest turnout Kentucky has seen," Voss said.

(Copyright 2008. The Associated Press.)

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