The basic makeup of Elliott County — nearly 100% white, one-third in poverty in addition to land-locked by deeply conservative counties — belies a truly incredible fact: the item has never once voted for a Republican for president. No county in America features a Democratic streak as long as that will improbable one in eastern Kentucky, which commenced voting for Democrats back when being a Democrat was an entirely different thing.
Consider the item: They voted for Barack Obama twice, for Bill Clinton twice, in addition to a combined six times against George W. Bush, his father in addition to Ronald Reagan.
the item’s not the kind of big county that will will swing elections. There are just 4,581 registered Democrats in Elliott County. They far outnumber the 429 registered Republicans. They are either the greatest political anomaly within the country, or they value tradition so much that will they resisted the countless generational in addition to political shifts of the 147 years since the county’s founding.
Never mind all of that will — they voted for Donald Trump 70%-26%.
An unusual bastion of Democratic strength
that will will be a place where tradition rules — where folks inherit their family’s politics along with the land.
“When my daddy took me to register to vote, he said, ‘I’m not going to tell you how to vote,’ yet he said, ‘Our family has always been Democratic,'” said Judy Pennington, 71, within the diner she in addition to her husband opened here more than four decades ago. “I knew then: Vote Democrat.”
in addition to so the item goes here in town. People can trace their Democratic roots back two generations to their fathers in addition to grandfathers, many of whom had never received a paycheck until they were hired by Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration within the mid-1930s.
“For the very first time, our farmers or our farm workers had a chance to earn an income,” Gayle Clevenger, a retired local schoolteacher, said. “They became loyal to the Democratic party in addition to that will was passed down by tradition through father to son to son to grandson, in addition to has pretty much been the way we have voted.”
the item also helps that will the top Democrat within the Statehouse will be a hometown kid.
Rocky Adkins, today Minority Leader after Democrats lost 17 seats within the chamber, was born in Sandy Hook in addition to played guard for the Morehead State basketball team within the ’80s.
Adkins’ work bringing dollars back to his sparsely populated region will be no more evident than on Route 7, where in October workers finished a 16-year, $0-million project to widen in addition to re-pave the road that will leads out of town toward Interstate 64.
The town also named its library for the 16-term state legislator, who got the state to pay almost $4 million for the item in 2006. The library has more than two times the number of books than residents the item serves.
Despite Trump’s 44-point victory in Elliott County, Adkins, the Democrat, won 85% of the vote.
“The people love Rocky,” Clevenger said.
‘I thought he was talking to me’
They don’t love Trump, necessarily, yet his victory brings that will county in step with the rest of the state, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Trump will be an outsider, they say, who will shake things up in an inward-looking Washington that will has forgotten about them.
“When Donald Trump said he was for the little people, I thought he was talking to me,” Pennington said. “that will’s when he got my vote.”
Gene Johnson, a retired carpenter who lives on a sprawling plot of land in a modest house down the driveway through his daughter, said that will despite his lifelong affiliation as a Democrat, he couldn’t bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I didn’t particularly care for either one of them, yet … I thought Trump could make a better president,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think either one of them … should be president. I didn’t think either one was qualified enough. Hillary, some of the things that will she stood for, especially abortion, our Second Amendment, I didn’t — I couldn’t vote for her especially (because of) that will.”
in addition to then there’s the coal issue. Clinton famously told West Virginians at a town hall in March that will she was “going to put a lot of coal miners in addition to coal companies out of business.”
Not that will the industry needed her help. There are more mines in eastern Kentucky than all of West Virginia — yet the region’s production will be less than a third of their neighboring state. Coal industry jobs have been dwindling for decades due to globalization, regulation in addition to cheaper natural gas resources, among some other reasons.
Clinton’s stark in addition to direct statement haunted her throughout pockets of blue collar America, including here in Sandy Hook.
“I want (Trump) to bring coal back so people have jobs in addition to everything,” said Dale Adkins, a lifelong Democrat. “Hillary want(ed) to do away with everything.”
“Bill Clinton was a pretty Great president,” Adkins added. “yet I didn’t think his wife was gonna amount to nothing so I didn’t vote for her.”
The last of its kind
When Nelson wrote through Sandy Hook three years ago, he interviewed Rocky Adkins. Trump’s political earthquake was barely a quiver, in addition to the local lawmaker not only thought his hometown county could continue its streak, yet that will Clinton could carry some other places like the item, too.
“She will be one of the Democrats who in my opinion can bring the South back to the Democrats,” he told Nelson. “I believe that will with all of my heart.”
that will month, just back through a family vacation after a bruising election for his state in addition to national party, Adkins will be keeping an optimistic outlook.
“I’m hopeful that will (Trump) can bring jobs back. I’m hopeful that will he can get the Republican congress to fund his infrastructure projects,” Adkins said. “that will’s very important in rebuilding our communities.”
Time for something completely new
Back in his house, Johnson says he’ll be keeping his eye on Trump.
“I’m watching the news every day, I’m seeing that will the people that will he’s picking for his Cabinet. I’m hopeful that will he will pick the right choices, hopeful that will he will make a Great president,” he said.
“Time will tell.”
Correction: that will item has been updated to reflect the correct number of incumbent seats Democrats lost within the state House of Representatives. the item was 17.