2003 Kentucky gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kentucky gubernatorial election, 2003

← 1999 November 4, 2003 2007 →
  Ernie Fletcher.jpg A.B. Chandler.jpg
Nominee Ernie Fletcher Ben Chandler
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Steve Pence Charlie Owen
Popular vote 596,284 487,159
Percentage 55.04% 44.96%

Kentucky Governor Election Results by County, 2003.svg
County results[1]
Fletcher:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%
Chandler:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Paul E. Patton

Elected Governor

Ernie Fletcher

The Kentucky gubernatorial election, 2003 was held to elect the Governor of Kentucky on November 4, 2003. Republican candidate Ernie Fletcher defeated Democrat Ben Chandler and became the first Republican governor of Kentucky in 32 years.[2]

Democratic primary[edit]


Incumbent Democratic Governor Paul E. Patton was term limited from seeking a third term of office and was facing investigations after admitting to an affair. This led to the other Democratic candidates distancing themselves from him.[3] State Attorney General Ben Chandler won the primary narrowly defeating the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Jody Richards, whose running mate was Tony Miller. He had led in the polls for several months before the primary.[4]

Earlier businessman Bruce Lunsford had dropped out of the primary after Chandler launched adverts talking of abuse at nursing homes run by Lunsford's company.[3] Lunsford had spent 8 million dollars of his own money during the primary campaign and after his withdrawal backed Richards against Chandler and said he would vote against Chandler in the general election if he won the primary.[4]


Democratic primary results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ben Chandler 143,150 50.20
Democratic Jody Richards 132,627 46.51
Democratic Otis Hensley 9,372 3.29
Total votes 285,149 100

Republican primary[edit]


Physician and former Air Force pilot Ernie Fletcher won the Republican primary easily. Earlier Fletcher had to replace his running mate for lieutenant governor, Hunter Bates, as he did not meet the residency requirements.[3] Fletcher was backed by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and led in most polls before the primary.[4]


Republican primary results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ernie Fletcher 90,912 57.31
Republican Rebecca Jackson 44,084 27.79
Republican Steve Nunn 21,267 13.41
Republican Virgil Moore 2,365 1.49
Total votes 158,628 100

General election[edit]


Fletcher tried to link Chandler with the scandals that incumbent governor Patton's administration had been racked with. However Chandler attempted to distance himself from the governor, calling for him to resign and describing himself as a maverick.[6]

Chandler meanwhile attacked President George Bush for his handling of the economy and linked Fletcher with his policies.[6] Nevertheless, Fletcher was assisted late in the campaign by President Bush, who made five visits to Kentucky to support him.[2] Fletcher led in the polls throughout the campaign and towards the end pulled out a lead of 7 to 9 percent over Chandler.[7]

Just before the election the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits for some residents of largely Democratic districts in West Louisville to try to get an injunction to stop Republicans from putting challengers in their precincts. Kentucky law allowed challengers to be stationed in precincts to question whether voters were eligible but the ACLU claimed they were targeting black voters and could intimidate people.[8] However a judge refused to issue the injunction and allowed the challengers to go ahead.[9]

Exit polls showed that Fletcher got a quarter of Democrats to support him as well as a majority of independents. Male voters backed Fletcher over Chandler by 59% to 41%, while women split almost equally.[10] They also showed that 18% of voters used their votes to express opposition to the incumbent governor Paul Patton.[11]


2003 gubernatorial election, Kentucky[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Ernie Fletcher 596,284 55.04% +32.84%
Democratic Ben Chandler 487,159 44.96% -15.74%
Majority 109,125 10.07% -28.43%
Total votes 1,083,443
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Turnout 40.2%[13] +19.8%


  1. ^ Kentucky state board of elections: report of "official" election night tally results Archived May 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "N.Ky. key to victory for Fletcher". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 2003-11-05. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  3. ^ a b c "Fletcher, Chandler Win Nominations for Kentucky Governor". Fox News Channel. 2003-05-20. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  4. ^ a b c "Washington Wrap". CBS News. 2003-05-20. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  5. ^ a b "Kentucky State Board of Elections Welcome to the State Board of Elections". Elect.ky.gov. Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  6. ^ a b "Kentucky Gubernatorial Race Is Test for Bush on Economy". CNN. 2003-08-14. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  7. ^ "Kentucky Gubernatorial Election". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  8. ^ "Lawsuits filed ahead of Kentucky's gubernatorial election". CNN. 2003-11-05. Archived from the original on 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  9. ^ "Judge refuses to ban Republicans' poll challengers from black neighborhoods". Associated Press. 2003-11-04. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  10. ^ "Kentucky Governor: FOX News Exit Poll". Fox News Channel. 2003-11-10. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  11. ^ "Survey data help explain GOP victories in Kentucky, Mississippi". CNN. 2003-11-10. Archived from the original on 2004-01-03. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  12. ^ "Kentucky State Board of Elections Welcome to the State Board of Elections". Elect.ky.gov. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  13. ^ http://elect.ky.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Election%20Statistics/turnout/2001-2005/03gen.pdf