A convicted felon not only made West Virginia’s Democratic primary ballot, he won 72,544 – or 41 percent - of votes in the contest against Democratic President Barack Obama, and could receive at least one of the state’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer.
The inmate, Keith Judd, is serving a 17-1/2 year sentence at a federal prison in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999.
Judd’s performance was taken as a sign of deep animosity in West Virginia toward Obama, who was handily defeated in the state’s 2008 primary by Hillary Clinton and lost there by 13 percentage points to Republican John McCain in the general election. Joe Manchin, the state’s former governor who is now a Democratic senator, declined to say on Tuesday whether he had voted for Obama.
On Tuesday, Judd beat Obama in nine of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Republican party officials, aides and strategists emailed and tweeted with glee about Judd’s performance, and the Associated Press headlined its story, “Against Obama, even a jailbird gets some votes.”
The inmate’s performance also highlighted the sharp differences across the country in rules for running for office. While Judd, a convicted felon, made his way onto West Virginia’s ballot, leading Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were unable to satisfy the complicated requirements to get onto the ballot to compete in the Republican primary in neighboring Virginia on March 6.