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McCain, McConnell, Guthrie win in Shelby

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By Walt Reichert

Shelby County stayed in the red.

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Though Sen. John McCain lost the national race, Shelby County gave him nearly the same majority the county gave George W. Bush four years ago. McCain took almost 62 percent of the votes here. He had 11,451 votes to Sen. Barack Obama's 6,871 votes.

Jeff Mackey and his wife, Chrystal, have had many heated debates leading up to yesterday's election. In the end, they, like the majority of people in Shelby County, voted for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Jeff Mackey said the issues that finally brought the couple to agreement on McCain were his commitment to the military and his economic plan.

McCain also racked up an easy victory in Kentucky, topping Obama by about 14 percentage points.

In Kentucky's closely watched Senate race, Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell also won handily here. He beat Democrat challenger Bruce Lunsford 10,790 to 7,546, giving McConnell about 59 percent of the vote in Shelby County en route to retaining is seat.

McConnell is the Republican floor leader in the Senate, and Democrats had hoped to knock him off in an attempt to garner at least 60 Democratic votes in the Senate.

He has served in the Senate for 24 years, and when he has come to Shelby County, he has emphasized his family ties. For the last years of their lives, his parents lived here.

Danny Joe Cottrell said he was one voter for McConnell. Cottrell said he lost money in stock when Lunsford's health-care company, Vencor, filed for bankruptcy.

“I didn't vote for Lunsford, that's for sure,” Cottrell said. “He cost me $21,000 when his company went under.”

In the Second Congressional District race, state Sen. Brett Guthrie, another Republican, handily beat state Sen. David Boswell here. Guthrie had 10,073 votes to Boswell's 7,980 in Shelby County. At press-time, Guthrie was beating Boswell in the district by about four percentage points.

The Second District match-up came after Rep. Ron Lewis decided not to seek re-election. The district runs from Shelby County in the northeast to the Tennessee border in the south and to Owensboro in the west. Guthrie is from Bowling Green. Boswell is from Owensboro.

Shelby County Republican Chairman Steve Miller said Guthrie was little-known when he entered the race, but worked harder to capture Shelby County than Boswell.

“He was here 10 times to one for the other guy,” Miller said. “We took him to every little country store to talk to the people. Brett could talk to anybody.”

McCain's, McConnell's and Guthrie's victories in Shelby County mark the county's backing national Republicans for the last several elections, even though Democrats have an edge of about 4,000 registered voters here.

Shelby County Democratic Chairman Nathan Riggs said he had hoped Obama would run better here.

“I guess it really shouldn't have been as much of a surprise based upon the primary results,” Riggs said. In the May primary, Hillary Clinton handily beat Obama here and across the state.

Riggs said the good news about the race for local Democrats is that it energized new voters.

“A lot of people became incredibly excited about the race,” Riggs said. “I'm as proud of our organization as I've ever been. We've just got to do more organizing and more work.”

Meanwhile, Miller said the local Republican organization was having a victory party.

“It's a great day for Shelby County Republicans,” Miller said. “It shows to me Shelby County is still a very conservative county.”