Just how unpopular is President Obama in some parts of the country? Enough that a man in a Texas prison received four out of 10 votes in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary.
Inmate Keith Judd, 53, is serving 17 years for extortion at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution. He was sentenced in 1999 for making threats against the University of New Mexico and is due to be released on June 24 next year.
With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, Obama was receiving just under 60 per cent of the vote to Judd’s 40 per cent.
For some West Virginia Democrats, simply running against Obama is enough to get Judd – or Inmate Number 11593-051 – votes.
‘I voted against Obama,’ said Ronnie Brown, a 43-year-old electrician from Cross Lanes who called himself a conservative Democrat.
‘I don’t like him. He didn’t carry the state before and I’m not going to let him carry it again.’
When asked which presidential candidate he voted for, Brown said: ‘That guy out of Texas.’
Judd was able to get on the state ballot by paying a $2,500 fee and filing a form known as a notarized certification of announcement, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.
According to the Charleston Gazette, Judd circulated his political standpoints to local media. These include opposing national health care reform on the grounds that it violates the 10th Amendment.
He also cites the U.S. Constitution, saying that incarcerated felons should not be disqualified from voting.
Judd is housed at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Texarkana, a low-security facility for male prisoners. It is located in northeast Texas near the Arkansas border, 175 miles east of Dallas.
Attracting at least 15 per cent of the vote would normally qualify a candidate for a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
But state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said no one has filed to be a delegate for Judd.
The state party also believes that Judd has failed to file paperwork required of presidential candidates, but officials continued to research the matter, Mr Scarbro said. There may also be issues because the man is an inmate in federal prison.
Voters in other conservative states showed their displeasure with Obama in Democratic primaries last March.
In Oklahoma, anti-abortion protestor Randall Terry got 18 per cent of the primary vote. A lawyer from Tennessee, John Wolfe, pulled nearly 18,000 votes in the Louisiana primary.
In Alabama, 18 per cent of Democratic voters chose ‘uncommitted’ in the primary rather than vote for Obama.
Obama’s energy policies and the Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of mining-related permits have incurred the wrath of West Virginia’s coal industry.
With the state the nation’s second-biggest producer of this fossil fuel, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin – both Democrats have championed the industry – have declined to say whether they will support Obama in November.
Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Obama in the state’s 2008 primary, and he lost the state to Republican John McCain in the general election.
The latest state-by-state Gallup poll, released in January, found Obama with a 32.7 per cent approval rating in West Virginia.
The president had a lower approval rating only in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
‘Keith Judd’s performance is embarrassing for Obama and our great state,’ outgoing West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart said.
Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won West Virginia’s GOP primary on Tuesday with more than 69 per cent of the vote, with 93 per cent of precincts reporting. Rick Santorum followed with 12 per cent, while Ron Paul had 11 per cent.
Mr Brown, the Cross Lanes electrician, went to the polls on Tuesday with his 22-year-old daughter, Emily. She planned to vote for Judd too until she found out where Judd has been living.
‘I’m not voting for somebody who’s in prison,’ she said.
However she was certain about one thing: ‘I just want to vote against Barack Obama.’