Wednesday, November 5, 2003

State losses new for Democrats

By Roger Alford and Dylan T. Lovan
The Associated Press

For years, Kentucky Democrats have had a stranglehold on statewide offices. But that grip loosened Tuesday night, and the losses showed on the faces of the party faithful at the Democrats' victory celebration.

Republican Ernie Fletcher won the race for governor over Ben Chandler, and other GOP candidates, C.M. "Trey" Grayson and Richie Farmer, won their respective races for secretary of state and agriculture commissioner.

Terry McBrayer, a former campaign chairman for Gov. Paul Patton, said Fletcher is now "his governor."

He said that Democrats must press on.

"So we then retool the Democratic party and look for bright, young leaders, and get behind them and support them," McBrayer said.

Some supporters feared early on that it could be a bad night for Democrats.

Republicans hadn't held a statewide office in more than three decades.

But Ernie Fletcher, 50, a physician turned politician, was widely considered the GOP's best hope in decades of reclaiming the governor's office.

The last Republican governor was Louie Nunn, who served from 1967-71. Democrats had won every race since.

U.S Rep. Hal Rogers said the victory would change the face of Kentucky politics.

"You can expect a big swing in party affiliation," he said.

"People who have been registered Democrat will be switching to the Republican Party. This will actually be a rebirth of the Republican Party statewide."

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