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Wilson County votes Bush
Nov 03, 2004 12:00 am
Even as the national outcome was again going right down to the wire, Wilson County voters were handing a decisive victory to President George W. Bush.
Bush, who carried Wilson County in 2000 by a margin of just over 2,000 votes, defeated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in local balloting by a nearly two-to-one margin.
Unofficial returns showed Bush with 28,896 votes – or 65 percent – compared to 15,256 votes or 34 percent for Kerry.
As was the case across the nation, Election Day in Wilson County was fueled by a heavy voter turnout with more than 41,000 local ballots cast.
Bush's sound local thrashing of Kerry was the knockout punch in a unquestionable Election Day victory for local Republicans, who also saw a candidate who waged virtually no public campaign come within approximately 200 votes of an incumbent Democratic Congressman.
Bush's Tuesday vote total was 10,000 votes higher than his local tallies in 2000, when he defeated former Vice President and Smith County native Al Gore 18,884 to 16,561.
"It's really good – probably better than we expected," said Phillip Warren, Wilson County Chairman of the Bush re-election effort.
He maintained the "clear cut differences" between the president and his challenger led to the incumbent's large local margin of victory.
"I think in this election there was more of a clear-cut difference than I've seen in a long time," Warren said.
He said the continual show of Wilson County GOP muscle in Tuesday's election came from a combination of Bush's long coattails and an increasingly conservative local electorate.
"I think we're seeing voters showing more conservative values and ideals all across the county," Warren said. "The county party has come a long way in getting its message across on the issues."
Mark Cygler of the West Wilson Republicans – perhaps the county's most influential right-wing group – said Tuesday's resounding local GOP victory is a continuation of the momentum the party started building two years ago when Mt. Juliet Republican Mae Beavers won election to the State Senate.
Cygler – contacted when just over two-thirds of the county's precincts were reporting – said he was not surprised by Bush's large lead at the ballot box.
"I think it could even turn out to be larger. It's not just West Wilson County any longer. There are a lot of conservative Democrats in the eastern part of the county who share the same values morally, religiously and politically," Cygler said.
At the local Democrat Party headquarters, chairperson Mary Patterson and Kerry supporters remained glued to TV sets, hoping to see their candidate best Bush by pulling enough of the so-called "swing states" to win the White House.
"We're looking at the big picture," she said. "Right now, all we're interested in is how the swing states are going."
She said local Democrats should feel no shame over Tuesday's defeat.
"We feel good about the effort we put out" Patterson said. "We got our message out to a lot of people."
And she predicted the local Democratic Party will be ready to fight again when the next election cycle rolls around in two years.
"We're not giving up. We won't stop fighting. This won't keep us down," she said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.