By PAUL ADKINS
Chances are that many people didn’t know who Keith Judd was on Election Day.
All that one might have known was that Judd was on the ballot and was an alternative to Barack Obama on the Democratic Presidential ticket. That was enough for some people.
But most people probably know who Judd is now.
The infamous Texas prisoner made national and worldwide headlines by snagging 41 percent of the Democrat vote in Tuesday’s West Virginia Presidential Primary. Obama won the state with only 59 percent but it was a total headache for the president in the coal fields.
As one could expect, conservatives and Republicans across the state and nation had a field day with the strange turn of events.
At the top of the conservative Drudge Report website on Wednesday morning the headline streamer said: “Obama gets run for his money in W.Va. Primary from Inmate No. 11593-051.”
The story also made it to ABC-TV and radio, Fox News and even the London Daily Mail in the United Kingdom.
Syndicated conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh talked at great length about Judd and Obama’s staunch unpopularity in West Virginia during his Wednesday afternoon monologue.
“If I didn’t know better I would say that there’s a war on Obama being waged by the Democrats,” Limbaugh said. “It certainly looks that way to me. It looks to me like Democrats in West Virginia want jobs. It would appear to me that Democrats in West Virginia want lower gasoline prices. They want higher home values and more disposable income. They don’t want people telling them what kind of light bulbs to buy. The Democrats in West Virginia figured out that the president put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. He spent a trillion dollars on non-shovel ready jobs. He ran up five trillion dollars in new debt in three and a half years and Americans are fleeing the job market out of frustration.”
Added Limbaugh, “There is no improvement in the job market and no economic growth. There’s no reason to re-elect the guy. So Democrats in at least eight counties in West Virginia would rather have an inmate from a Federal prison than Barack Obama. That’s a protest vote.”
Republican candidate for governor Bill Maloney, speaking with Hoppy Kercheval on Wednesday morning’s “Talkline,” put it more simply.
“The southern coal fields are obviously ticked off,” said Maloney, who is running against Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in this fall’s rematch. “It sounds like the Democratic Party doesn’t like their would-be nominee.”
Republican Second Congressional District Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito also weighed in during the show.
“The first numbers that I saw were coming out of southern West Virginia,” Capito said. “That says to me that it was a total rejection of the president and his policies on our energy resources. Logan, Mingo and Boone were three of the counties that Obama actually lost. I think that was because of the president’s environmental and economic policies. It was a rejection with the way that the president is taking the country.”
A total of 10 counties in West Virginia were won by Judd, who was able to get his name on the West Virginia ballot despite being a convicted felon and behind bars, 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.
Among those 10 were Mingo, Logan, Boone, Lincoln and Wyoming counties in the coal fields.
The five-county block has playfully been referred to as “The Kingdom of Judd.”
The anti-Obama epicenter was Mingo County, where Judd won by a full 20 points and 1,005 votes. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Judd had 2,972 votes (60.1 percent) to Obama’s 1,967 (39.9 percent).
Mingo was also Obama’s worst showing in the 2008 Democratic Primary — a county which went for Hillary Clinton by a staggering 80 points, 88-8, perhaps the biggest disparity in the nation.
And it wasn’t even close in neighboring Logan County as the Texas inmate grabbed 2,786 votes to Obama’s 2,231, winning by 11 points — 55.5 percent to 44.4.
Statewide, Judd finished with 72,544 votes.
Both Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin have distanced themselves from the unpopular president, while at the same time trying not to alienate left-wing and liberal Democrats within the state.
Manchin, who is in a fall rematch with the GOP’s John Raese for a full six-year senate term, recently told a Washington reporter, “I am just waiting for it to play out. I am not jumping in one way or another.”
Tomblin has also refused to endorse the president, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
“I do not believe either candidate has a real understanding of what is important to West Virginia,” Tomblin said. “Neither President Obama nor Gov. Romney has earned my vote at this point.”
Maloney fired back at Tomblin in a Wednesday press release saying, “I don’t know why Earl Ray is so confused who to vote for.”
For some West Virginia Democrats, simply running against Obama was enough to get Judd votes. It apparently didn’t matter who he was, just the fact that there was another name on the ballot.
“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 told The Associated Press, “That guy out of Texas.”
“Keith Judd’s performance is embarrassing for Obama and our great state,” outgoing West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart said.
Conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity also touched on the Judd fiasco on Wednesday.
“How unpopular is President Obama in some parts of the country?” Hannity asked. “The answer is enough that a man in a Texas prison for 17 years received more than four out of 10 votes from West Virginia Democrats in their primary. This is pretty amazing. A Texas inmate getting 41 percent of the vote? How did that happen?”
Judd is expected to finish out his 17-year prison sentence on June 24, 2013.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.