PARKERSBURG - There is apparently a large number of West Virginians who would rather see a convicted felon elected president of the United States than re-elect incumbent President Barack Obama.
Obama had a close race Tuesday in the Democratic primary with Keith Judd, who is serving a 17.5-year prison sentence for extortion at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas. Judd received 41 percent of the vote in West Virginia's Democratic primary for president, around 72,000 votes to Obama's 106,000.
In Wood County, Obama received 3,843 votes while Judd received 2,146. In Calhoun County, Obama received 527 votes to Judd's 453. In Doddridge County, Obama received 168 votes to Judd's 124.
In Gilmer County, Obama received 643 votes, losing out to Judd's 690. In Pleasants County, Obama received 523 votes to Judd's 347. In Ritchie County, Obama received 270 votes to Judd's 205.
In Roane County, Obama received 902 votes to Judd's 342. In Tyler County, Obama received 279 votes to Judd's 178. In Jackson County, Obama received 1,916 votes to Judd's 892. In Wirt County, Obama received 374 votes to Judd's 349.
Greg Smith, chairman of the Wood County Republican Party, said Judd won eight counties across the state.
More than 72,000 West Virginians voted for an imprisoned felon over President Barack Obama in the state primary, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was not one of them.
A Democrat like Obama, Tomblin's campaign said Wednesday that he absolutely did not vote for Keith Judd.
State residents have not been happy with the policies of the Obama administration, in regard to coal and energy as well as new guidelines implemented by the EPA that many feel are detrimental to the state. Many voters showed their displeasure at the administration's progressive liberal philosophy at the polls, Smith said.
''It is good news for Republicans and West Virginia,'' Smith said of the apparent changing attitudes many have toward the modern Democratic Party compared to the one many people were raised with.
Wood County Democratic Party Chairman Harold Brown wondered how Judd got on the ballot.
''He is quite a character,'' he said.
Jake Glance, a spokesman for the West Virginia Secretary of State's office, said Judd filed the proper paperwork correctly, had it notarized and paid the $2,500 ballot-access filing fee.
Glance said his office does not have the authority to determine candidate eligibility. Someone could have brought up Judd's candidacy in court, just like what was done recently when former state Sen. Frank Deem tried to get his name on the ballot and incumbent state Sen. Donna Boley challenged him.
''Anyone could have challenged Judd's eligibility,'' Glance said. ''No one challenged his candidacy.''
Brown believes many of Judd's votes were protest votes.
''You could of had anyone in there and the results would have been the same,'' he said.
Brown said the president needs to make a gesture to the state to address people's dissatisfaction.
''The coal issue is local (for West Virginia and surrounding states), but its impact is national,'' he said.
He said dialogues are good in addressing problems and working through differences.
Brown said he felt the EPA should take reasonable action to keep the environment clean, but it should not smother the coal industry out of existence.
West Virginia Democratic Chairman Larry Puccio said the vote Tuesday was not specifically for Judd, but to send a message to the administration.
''Many people did not even know who this fellow was,'' he said. ''They were sending a message and making a stance. They wanted to be heard that they were not satisfied.''
There were thousands who voted for the president.
''Those folks were with him then,'' Puccio said. ''Come November, those folks will be there again.''
He believes many of the people who made a protest vote in the primary got their point across and will come back and support the party in the general election.
Puccio pointed out that more than 30 percent of Republicans in the state voted against frontrunner Mitt Romney in the primary.
Officials from both parties said there was a sizable number of Democrats who, in 2008, originally supported Hillary Clinton for president in this area and did not agree with the policies of Obama. People may have voted the way they did because of that as well, they added.
The Republican leadership is looking at this development as a way to win over Democratic voters to support Republican candidates.
Mike Stuart, West Virginia Republican Party chairman, said Judd's showing shows the administration is out of touch with many people.
''We want to make it clear, the Republicans are fighting for the interests of working families,'' he said.