Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For many at one Lexington poll, the choice was between an experienced officeholder and a shake-it-up outsider

By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

For many voters at the polls at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at Alumni Drive and New Circle Road in Lexington, the choice in today's election for governor was between an experienced politician who knows how to get things done in Frankfort and an outsider who wants to shake it up.

“I didn’t feel like we had much of a choice, but I thought we needed a change,” said Mary Lynne Lovingood, 66, a retired chemistry teacher who voted for Republican Matt Bevin. “I’m tired of the atmosphere of everything.”

Several voters said they favored Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway because of his eight years as attorney general.

“I feel like Conway can do a better job because he is a Kentucky guy who’s been in politics for a while,” said Paul Jenkins, 48, a registered Republican who has a small manufacturing company.

Retired architect Michael Schenck, 65, said Bevin “seems to be smarter” than Conway “but he doesn’t have the experience. . . . I don’t know how much support he would have in Frankfort.” Schenck said he typically votes Democratic.

Therapist and yoga instructor Toni Reiss, 63, who described herself as an independent Democrat, said she voted for Conway because she didn’t think Bevin “has the interests of the everyday people in mind” because of his positions on education and health care, “which is what we pay our taxes for.” Also, she said, “He seems to be quick-tempered, not one prone to conversations and problem-solving through shared ideas.”

Some voters said they couldn’t trust Bevin. Veterinarian Patricia Davis, 31, said she mostly votes Democratic and didn’t consider Bevin because “I don’t find him trustworthy at all for a governor.”

Pamela Mathis-yon, 73,a retired family therapist who said she is a registered Democrat but “sort of a Republican,” said she couldn’t vote for Bevin because he hasn’t always paid his taxes on time. “Anybody that doesn’t pay their taxes . . . that totally turned me off.”

However, the tax questions didn’t bother retired bookkeeper Sheila Hein, 74. “I got so tired of hearing about the tax thing,” she said. “If you’re in business, you always pay the penalty and pay your taxes late.”

Hein said she was going to vote for Conway but “He started getting smirky” and “I couldn’t take those negative ads anymore.”

Her husband, Republican and retired tire dealer Bernard Hein, 73, said he voted for Bevin because “Conway crucified him” and didn’t say enough good about his own record.

C.R. Gash, 40, said he usually votes Democratic but voted for Bevin because the Democratic administration of Gov. Steve Beshear forced him to increase wages of his home-health employees. He said he was planning to vote for independent Drew Curtis, but didn’t want to waste his vote. “I’ll probably vote Democratic next time, because it’ll swing too far to the right and I’ll say, ‘Why did I do that?””

Curtis drew some votes from people unhappy with the political system or the other candidates.

“I didn’t like either one of the other two. I thought they were both liars,” said Mark Williamson, 46, a retired jail worker. If he hadn’t chosen Curtis, Williamson said, he would have voted for Bevin “because I don’t like Obama.” He said that while Obama won’t be in office much longer, “I believe Obamacare is going to be short-lived.” He said the president is the biggest issue for him: “Obama’s an idiot.”

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