Thursday, July 29, 2004

Democrat Ridley wins Ky. Senate open seat

The Associated Press

HENDERSON, Ky. - Democrat Dorsey Ridley won a special election for an open Kentucky Senate seat Tuesday, thwarting Republican hopes of enlarging the Senate majority.

Ridley beat David Thomason, a former Democrat who changed parties and jumped into the race backed by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other prominent Republicans.

"It was a 35-day grass-roots effort of the Democratic Party, coming together to bring out the Democratic vote," he said Tuesday night. "I'm humbled by it."

In complete but unofficial returns from the six counties of the 4th District, Ridley had 12,094 votes, or 59.1 percent. Thomason had 8,362 votes, or 40.9 percent.

Ridley would fill the 21/2 years remaining on the term of Paul Herron, a Democrat who died June 16. The Senate would retain a 22-16 Republican majority.

In crucial Henderson County, which was home to both candidates and contained a third of the district's 70,306 voters, Ridley rolled up a nearly 1,600-vote margin - 5,707 to 4,127. He also carried Caldwell, Livingston, Union and Webster counties.

Thomason carried traditionally Republican Crittenden County, and that was by a scant 148 votes. Turnout in Crittenden County was 17 percent, lowest in the district.

Turnout across the district was 29 percent - triple the percentage for the primary elections in May.

Senate President David Williams, who was among GOP leaders backing Thomason, said the turnout was a surprise. Conventional wisdom holds that low turnout favors a Republican, given Democrats' advantage in voter registration.

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