LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Voter turnout was low Tuesday in a U.S.
Senate primary that features the tea party-backed Rand Paul vs.
Republican establishment candidate Trey Grayson, amid a host of
Rain fell at some polling places and Kentucky Secretary of State
spokesman Les Fugate said turnout would fall below the 30 percent
forecast by the time polls closed at 6 p.m.
"Turnout has been low all day," Fugate said late Tuesday
afternoon. "We're hopeful there will be a late surge that will
help us meet our 30 percent estimate."
That would compare with 25 to 30 percent in the 2008
presidential primary and about 21 percent in 2007 with a
gubernatorial primary on the ballot. Turnout in 2002, which had a
similar assortment of races on the ballot, was just above 31
The Republican Senate primary between Bowling Green eye surgeon
Rand Paul and Secretary of State Trey Grayson has been closely
watched nationally, as Paul has claimed the mantle of the
anti-government, anti-tax Tea Party as his own, while Grayson has
drawn the support of the Republican hierarchy.
That race, and the accompanying Democratic primary, appeared to
be motivating voters who turned out early.
Roger Burnett, a 46-year-old data analyst from Louisville, voted
for Paul, calling it part of a "message election" similar to
1994, when Republicans were swept to power in the House and Senate.
Burnett said Paul can help send the message that the government
needs to get its financial books in order.
"We voted for change. Well, we got some change and we're
spending it like mad," Burnett said.
Van Doyle, a 36-year-old banker from Lexington, chose Grayson,
but not because he liked the candidate.
"He's not Rand Paul and he's the only one I think can win,"
Doyle said. "I'm not a Tea Party guy."
Kim Wilson, a nurse from Florence and longtime Republican, left
disappointed after finding out a snafu had her registered with the
"I would have voted for Rand Paul," she said, adding his tea
party connection would have swayed her vote. "He wants to make the
changes the American people are looking for. Everything he stands
for, I agree with."
Paul's presence on the ballot appeared to impact the Democratic
race, where voters were choosing between Attorney General Jack
Conway and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who lost a close race to U.S.
Sen. Jim Bunning six years ago. The winners Tuesday will face off
in the fall to replace Bunning, who is retiring.
Virginia Randolph, a retired professor from Murray, picked
Mongiardo, saying "he's not associated with the establishment."
"It's a strange issue, but I think he's got the best chance
against Rand Paul, because of the mood of the election," Randolph
Debbie Combs, a 60-year-old retired school teacher in Newport,
said a campaign by the local Democratic Party saying Conway is
electable in the fall swayed her decision.
"The senate race is probably the only reason I voted today,"
Combs said. "I just don't want Rand Paul to get in."
Fugate said voters complained of harassment and electioneering
by Paul backers in Laurel County, disrupting the election process
in Wayne County and exit polling in Jackson County.
"There were also campaign individuals who say they are allowed
to observe activity at the polling places. That's not allowed,"
Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson confirmed that deputies were
called to a polling place to remove Paul supporters, but he
declined to give details.
"We're still investigating," Johnson told The Associated
Press. "We'll have to see what the sheriff's report says."
Messages left with the Laurel County Sheriff's Office were not
Jackson County deputy clerk Brandy Vickers said Paul supporters
were asked to leave a polling place because of exit polling.
"Nothing major. They were just there," Vickers said.
In the southern Kentucky, a Paul supporter was asked to leave a
polling place in Wayne County after complaints that he was trying
to obtain "exit polling" information before voters went inside,
said David Lyons, the Republican election commissioner for the
county. Lyons said the supporter left peacefully at noon.
Paul's campaign manager, David Adams, called the allegations in
Laurel County "dubious," saying Democrats may have been behind
"That's my guess," Adams said. "I'm skeptical. It's an
attempt at shenanigans from the other side."
Fugate said there were few mechanical problems with machines or
polling places opening late.
"We've not have heard of any machine issues. It seems to be
smooth sailing," Fugate said. "It is spotty. In some counties,
we're hearing of good turnout."
Shelley Catherine Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky
Attorney General's Office, said 26 complaints about vote buying or
selling were called into the election fraud hot line, with the bulk
coming from Clay, Magoffin, Jackson and Perry counties in eastern
Around the state, voters also chose nominees in several
congressional races, including a field of Republicans seeking to
take on incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville,
and Rep. Ben Chandler, a Democrat from Lexington. The ballot also
featured state legislative races and candidates in a host of local
Associated Press writers Janet C. Blake in Louisville and
Jeffrey McMurray in Lexington contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)