McConnell Claims Victory

Kentucky voters re-elected Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell over Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford in a race that turned into the most expensive ever in Kentucky at $25 million and counting.

With 89 percent of precincts reporting, McConnell had 819,353 votes or 52.32 percent, compared with 746,559 votes, or 47.68 percent for Lunsford.

McConnell, the Senate minority leader, had raised $17.9 million for his re-election campaign by the end of September. Lunsford, a Louisville millionaire, personally put up $5.5 million of the $7.1 million in contributions he listed on campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission.

McConnell reminded voters in stump speeches and political ads of his rank as the Senate's top Republican, telling voters that translates into clout for Kentucky in Washington. He said it would be unwise to trade him in for a rookie Democrat.

Lunsford's political strategy has been to link McConnell to President Bush, and to lay blame for the nation's economic woes at his feet.

Five incumbent U.S. representatives were re-elected in Kentucky. That includes Democrats John Yarmuth of Louisville and Ben Chandler of Lexington and Republicans Hal Rogers of Somerset, Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville and Geoff Davis of Hebron.

Republican Brett Guthrie defeated Democrat David Boswell in western Kentucky's 2nd congressional district. He fills a seat left open by Ron Lewis, who is retiring.

Voters also promoted state Rep. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat, to the Kentucky Senate in one of 40 contested state legislative races.

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.

Lines were so long when Kathleen Blanton arrived at her polling station in a Louisville surburb at 6:30 a.m. EST that she gave up and went home to wait for the morning rush to pass. Blanton, a Democrat from Crestwood, found a much shorter line when she returned to Centerfield Baptist Church at 10:30 a.m. EST to cast
her vote for Obama.

"I feel like it's time for a change," Blanton said. "I think he's highly intelligent and I think it's about time we have a highly intelligent president."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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