Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Ky. Republicans jubilant after electoral vote

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — The normally staid courtroom of the Kentucky Supreme Court has likely never been as raucous as it was shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, when eight Republican electors formally voted for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as president and vice president of the United States.

        A crowd of more than 200 Republicans jammed into the courtroom. As Secretary of State John Y. Brown III announced that all eight electors had cast Kentucky's votes for Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, members of the crowd rose to their feet and applauded wildly.

        “We sure didn't have a crowd like this in 1996,” Mr. Brown said.

Added significance

               Many in the crowd said they were there to witness history and the added significance of this year's Electoral College vote.

        Although Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote, Mr. Bush won the presidency by just five electoral votes. Monday's Electoral College vote officially ended a five-week legal battle for the presidency that kept the outcome of the Nov. 7 election uncertain.

        Ohio's 21 electors on Monday also voted for Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney as promised, in the Senate chamber in Columbus.

        The Gore campaign and some individual voters and groups had contended thousands of votes went uncounted in Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Bush, stopping a recount and ultimately prompting Mr. Gore's concession last week.

Voted in wheelchair

               Robert Fearing, a 70-year-old elector from Ashland, said he suffered a stroke just a few weeks ago, but he was determined to be here Monday to vote on the board of electors.

        “This is something very special,” said Mr. Fearing, who sat in a wheelchair during the hourlong proceeding in the courtroom, a mahogany paneled chamber on the east side of the State Capitol building. “If there was any way possible, I was going to be here.”

        GOP officials and supporters were thrilled to win Kentucky for Mr. Bush, the first Republican to win here since his father, George Bush, was elected president in 1988.

        “It's been a long time coming,” said eastern Kentucky banker Mike Duncan, a Republican National Committeeman and a member of Mr. Bush's campaign team.

        “We've worked hard for this to happen, and it's something I wanted to see to the finish,” added O'Dell Berry, a veteran of Boone County Republican politics who drove two hours.

        The electors were sworn in by Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, and they signed a series of ballots and forms. Mr. Brown drew laughter and applause when he picked up one of the ballots and held it up over his head as if to inspect it, a humorous reminder of the scene played out numerous times on TV in Florida.

        Kentucky has eight electoral votes, equal to its number of seats in Congress. Though electors are not bound to vote for the party's candidate, there was no doubt that the eight Republicans were going to vote for Mr. Bush.

        “I received a lot of e-mails and letters from people who tried to convince me to vote for Gore,” said elector Richard Noss of Paducah. “But that wasn't going to happen.”

        Among those in the mahogany paneled chamber in the State Capitol building were two friends who spent the last year on the presidential campaign trail, taking vacation time and spending their own money to attend such events as the Iowa Caucuses, the Republican Na tional Convention in Philadelphia and the vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky.

        Erlanger City Administrator Bill Scheyer and Bob Schrage, the assistant director of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, said Monday's ceremony capped a historic year.

        “We've been to just about everything else,” Mr. Schrage said. “There was no way we were going to miss this. It's like watching history unfold right before your eyes.”


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