Two Candidates in Our Listening Area Ask for Recounts Following Close Losses
A longtime member of the Kentucky Senate and a political newcomer running for the state House aren't conceding after Tuesday's election results showed them trailing their opponents by slim margins. Democratic Sen. Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville said Wednesday he will request a recanvass of votes. He trailed Republican challenger Whitney Westerfield by 297 votes out of 36,617 cast.
The district covers Christian, Logan and Todd counties in western Kentucky.
Pendleton, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said many of his supporters were pushing him to press ahead with a review of the vote count.
"I slept well last night," Pendleton said. "I have no regrets. We fought hard, and I don't back up from anything I've done to help the people in the district. Whether it changes, I don't know. But at least I owe that to them, to recanvass and see if there are any changes."
A recanvass involves double-checking math and looking for human errors in data entry. It is a machine-by-machine review of vote totals produced by county election officials. It isn't the same as a recount.
The hard-fought Senate campaign featured rivals with family ties _ Westerfield is married to a cousin of Pendleton's.
"We're a family, and we're going to continue to get along," Pendleton said.
Tragedy struck Westerfield's family during the campaign, when his father died in a farming accident. Pendleton suspended his campaign for a time out of respect.
Meanwhile, first-time candidate Tim Kline said Wednesday he also intends to make the same recanvassing request.
The Republican's deficit was even more agonizingly close. He trailed longtime Democratic Rep. John Arnold by five votes out of 15,775 cast in the western Kentucky district spanning Union County and parts of Daviess and Henderson counties.
"We're trying to do what we think is best for all the folks who voted for us, but also for all the folks who spent a lot of time and energy helping me, a relative unknown, nearly take out an 18-year incumbent," said Kline, an attorney and former Air Force intelligence officer.
Pendleton and Kline didn't rule out possible recounts if the recanvasses show razor-thin margins.
Candidates have until next Tuesday to request recanvasses, which would be done Thursday of that week, according to the secretary of state's office.
There were a handful of close outcomes among the dozens of contested races for the General Assembly.
In an eastern Kentucky district, Republican challenger Gary Herald had a 134-vote advantage over Democratic Rep. Ted Edmonds out of 12,530 votes cast. The district covers Breathitt, Estill and Lee counties.
Edmonds did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment on whether he would request a recanvass of the vote.
The outcome of any recanvasses or recounts would not alter the balance of power in the Legislature. Democrats retained control of the House, while Republicans are still in charge of the Senate.