Conway the victor in Democrat primary

05/18/2010 11:39 PM

Jack Conway delivers his victory speech after winning the primary

Updated 11:39 p.m.: Claiming little time to waste, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, Jack Conway, mixed the normal celebratory speech with a loud warning shot to his general election opponent, Rand Paul.

“Ive got news for (the national media),” Conway said. “Both Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo got more votes than Rand Paul tonight.”

With his wife and young daughter on stage, extended family and supporters nearby and more than 100 supporters in the room, Conway took the time to thank those who helped in his primary victory. But more importantly, Conway, wanted to take his momentum into the general election six months away.

Conway, who erased an 18-point Mongiardo lead, narrowly defeated his primary opponent with less than 1 percentage point and close to 4,000 votes deciding the outcome.

Conway turned out well in the Golden Triangle but lost much of eastern and western Kentucky to Mongiardo. Conway supporters refused to breath easily until the Associated Press called the election for Conway close to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Conway also took the time to thank Mongiardo for a strong race and encouraged Republican Trey Grayson, who lost to Paul in the primary, to stay in politics.

“Trey Grayson you are a good and decent public servant,” Conway said. “And I hope you stay in the game.”

But at every turn, Conway seemed to want to distinguish himself from Paul. Conway once again asked voters to use their passion to heat the building, not burn it down.

Most importantly, Conway made sure everyone knew he wouldn’t go quietly this fall.

“Were going to beat Rand Paul in the fall and take back the Senate seat,” he said. “Were going to unite this party and be awfully strong this fall.”

- Kenny Colston

Updated 10:17 p.m.: With chants of “We got it back” and “No more tea,” supporters of Jack Conway celebrated and sent out a warning shot all in one as the announcement that Conway had narrowly won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate circulated inside the Downtown Marriott.

Conway is expected to speak at 10:30 p.m., and campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said that Mongiardo has called Conway to concede the race. He’ll speak first, the Conway will take the stage here.

- Kenny Colston

Updated 10:08 p.m.: Loud eruptions and cheers from the Conway supporters as this race has been called and completed.

Expect Conway any minute now.

- Kenny Colston

Updated 10:05 p.m.: It’s official. the Associated Press has called the race for Jack Conway.

We expect to hear from the nominee shortly.

- Kenny Colston

Updated 10:00 p.m.: Without a major source calling this race, the wait continues, with everyone sitting tight.

The Western Kentucky area is still turning out in Mongiardo’s favor, but Conway just pulled Warren County/Bowling Green. Conway pulls Warren County with over 1,000 votes.

Conway is clinging to a 6 percent lead.

—Kenny Colston

Updated 9:36 p.m.: Conway supporters are checking every website, every TV station, anything in order to get the latest poll results. It seems as if Conway supporters are counting head-by-head, vote-by-vote in an election that has been extremely close in the closing days, hours and minutes.

Conway has locked up what many consider the Golden Triangle (Everything between Jefferson, Fayette and the Northern Kentucky counties) but looks to be having trouble out west. The loss of Daviess county wasn’t pleasant for many supporters in attendance, but the difference in that county was less than 200 votes in Mongiardo’s favor.

—Kenny Colston

Updated 9:29 p.m.: It looks as if the endorsement of former Sen. Wendell Ford may have come too late for the Conway. According to the state election board, Daviess County is in Mongiardo’s hands. The news has hit supporters pretty heavily here at Conway’s headquarters.

Western Kentucky is falling left and right for Mongiardo, so buckle up. The night may have just begun.

—Kenny Colston

Updated at 9:13 p.m.: It looks as if the late arriving crowd to Conway’s event is due in part to several candidates in the Democratic primary for Louisville mayor holding events in the same hotel as Conway’s campaign.

The obvious giveaway is the dual buttons and stickers on dresses and sport coats that have started to fill the room.

When it comes to the results, Conway has dipped under the 50 percentile, currently leading 49 to 37 percent. Mongiardo has pulled every Western Kentucky county that’s been fully reported and is riding on more Eastern Kentucky counties reporting in full.

We’ve said it previously, this race isn’t close to over.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 8:49 p.m.:  Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley has informed the media that Conway is expected to arrive with the next 90 minutes.

Haley still maintains that she hasn’t been following election results heavily, but says she notices a growing buzz around the room.

The buzz may be growing around the Conway campaign, but calling this race would be premature, with Mongiardo already grabbing three Western Kentucky counties (Crittenden, Calloway and Hickman).

Conway has grabbed Simpson county in Southern Kentucky.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 8:44 p.m.: As we noted before, Jack Conway spent a lot of time in Central Kentucky these past few days and the campaigning looks to be paying off.

Short of a few counties and with most of the Central Kentucky counties fully reporting, Conway has won or leads in all but Henry, Bullitt and Woodford counties, but election results in those counties has yet to be reported to the state board of elections.

Also, in anticipation seemingly, the ballroom has filled with Conway supporters and the mood is going from caution to excitement.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 8:37 p.m.: Conway supporters Crit Luallen and former Gov. Paul Patton (who Conway worked for seven years) are making the media rounds, promoting a pretty strong finish for Conway.

Based on current results, Conway leads 52 to 35 percent and Patton predicted the race would be over in the next 30 minutes, with Conway the victor.

Along those lines, Luallen said the Conway campaign was excited with the results so far.

Most importantly, both said the Democrats would be unified tomorrow morning, regardless of who wins the nomination. Patton even as far to say that the Democrats lack of major differences could even deliver the Senate seat back to Democrats in the fall elections.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 8:07 a.m.: The results are pouring in and with Conway holding onto a 54-33 lead.

Both candidates are splitting north and northeast counties and Conway is holding strong in the central part of the state.

First Western Kentucky county is reporting, Calloway, and is leaning Mongiardo.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 7:54 p.m.:

Two counties fully reported, two different outcomes so far in tonights race. Nicholas County has gone to Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, while neighboring Robertson County has fallen in Jack Conway’s corner.

Conway still enjoys a sizable 57-30 percent lead over Mongiardo, riding heavy support in hometown Jefferson County (60 percent of the vote with 350 of 518 precincts reported) and decent support in Fayette County (51 percent of the vote with 196 of 287 precincts reporting).

But without a single Western Kentucky county reporting in yet, no one here at Conways headquarters is getting ahead of themselves.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 7:27 p.m.:

The ballroom is buzzing with about 40 Conway supporters, some which are following the results on TVs, laptops and smartphones, while others are just milling around.

None of Conways big supporters, former Sen. Wendell Ford, state auditor Crit Luallen or 6th District U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, have shown yet.

Jefferson and Hardin counties have started reporting as well, pushing Conway into a 54-32 percent lead, but with the polls just closing in Western Kentucky (and only 9 of 120 counties reporting) its way to early to make assumptions.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 7:06 p.m.: Quick updating because the latest results from the state board of elections has Conway surging into the lead, 49-39 percent, with the surge looking to come from Fayette County.

Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley said the campaign will probably wait until there are more obvious trends or more counties reporting, but noted “I don’t hate to hear that type of news.”

— Kenny Colston

Updated at 6:56 p.m.: In the days leading up to tonight, Jack Conway focused most of his energy on Louisville, Central Kentucky and Western Kentucky. That strategy may be paying off.

Early results from Fayette County/Lexington have Conway leading now, although the counties arent completely reported yet.

Also, the presence of candidate Darlene Price is helping Conway out in some Eastern Kentucky areas, with the state elections board reporting a narrow 44-41 lead for Mongiardo.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 6:40 p.m.:  The polls have been closed for just over 30 minutes and a few Conway supporters are finding their way into the ballroom.

With 1 percent of precincts reporting, Conway is trailing by about 400 votes, but campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said there weren’t any worries.

“The polls have been closed what, 15 minutes?” Haley told the bank of reporters. “And Western Kentucky doesnt close for another 40 minutes.”

Haley also said Conway wouldnt make an appearance anytime soon, instead waiting for something definite before showing up in the Marriott ballroom.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 5:47 p.m.: With less than 20 minutes left until polls close in most of the state, the scene is slowly shaping up at the Downtown Marriott in Louisville, where Jack Conway has encouraged the media and supporters to gather.

A quick count shows that the Democratic primary may have more attention on it than originally thought, with at least 10 video cameras, in addition to print and other media outlets (cn|2 Politics included).

Conway is starting the night at home with family, where he will watch the initial results come in.

Right now, media and members of Conway’s campaign staff are the only ones in the ballroom, but with the polls closing at 6 p.m., expect the room to start filling soon.

- Kenny Colston

Updated at 4:55 p.m.:  After 14 months crisscrossing the state, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway wound down his primary campaign on Tuesday thanking supporters throughout stops in his hometown of Louisville and then in Central Kentucky.

During one particular early morning stop in the Highlands area of Louisville, which Conway said reminded him of campaigning for his failed bid for the 3rd District congressional seat in 2002, Conway shook the hands of about two dozen supporters who were waving signs and encouraging voters driving by to support Conway’s bid for U.S. Senate. Shortly thereafter, Conway headed toward Lexington, an area he described as key to potential victory.

“(Lexington) is critical,” Conway said. “So I’m going to spend some time there with supporters in the 6th District, where Ben Chandler and Crit Luallen have helped so much. I want to let the people know I represent all of Kentucky.”

Citing his momentum and stance on the health care bill passed recently, Conway assured supporters that he believed he would be declared the Democratic nominee by the end of the night. Conway said that his own polling showed a four-point victory, while most independent polls have shown his race with Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo in a statistical dead heat, but with a slight Mongiardo lead.

What seemingly mattered to Conway on the last morning of campaigning the most was the enthusiasm of his supporters, who stood in a chilly drizzle trying to gather every last vote.

“It’s touching to see young people on a cold morning out here,” Conway said of his supporters. “Just reminds me that this race isn’t about me.”

- Kenny Colston

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