by Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal –
Courier Journal reporter Thomas Novelly spends five minutes with Bullitt Co. special election candidate Rebecca Johnson before Tuesday’s election. Alton Strupp/Louisville Courier Journal
An hour after being defeated by Linda Belcher in a special election in Bullitt County Tuesday night, a spokesman for Rebecca Johnson said she is claiming voter fraud.
“The big story out of Bullitt County appears to be voter fraud,” David Adams, Johnson’s campaign manager said in a text message.
Belcher secured 68.45 percent of the vote, according to the Bullitt County Clerk’s office. Rebecca Johnson, Dan Johnson’s widow, secured 31.55 percent. There were 4,947 votes cast.
Johnson, however, claims that numerous people were turned away as being ineligible to vote at their local polling place.
“I’ve heard from people all day long saying they went to vote for me at the correct polling place and were refused the opportunity to vote,” Johnson said in a statement. “It’s like we are in a third world country.”
The Bullitt County Clerk’s Office did not respond to a request for comment after the election results were announced.
The special election was put in place after Rep. Dan Johnson died by suicide two days after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a story saying he had been accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl at the Fern Creek church where he was pastor. The story also linked him to arson cases and alcohol violations at the church.
Rebecca Johnson had suggested that Linda Belcher was involved in an effort by liberal organizations to destroy her husband, a charge that Belcher rejected.
“The only thing I really want to say at this point is that I know the pain of losing a husband,” Belcher told WHAS 11 in December. “I’ve been through that. I don’t wish that on anybody.”
The two had not met face to face for any debates or forums during the two-month campaign. Johnson cited her conflicting schedule and also called the events “fake debates” in a recent Courier Journal interview.
Belcher told Courier Journal that she was excited to win the seat.
“Cloud nine about describes it,” Belcher said. “Our strategies worked. We ran a very positive campaign and we were trying to reach out and touch the people of Bullitt County and we did. I have to thank them for listening to our message.”
Rebecca Johnson and Adams, however, said in a text message that they are considering options to contest the results.
“I’m looking forward to the general election and working towards winning it,” Rebecca Johnson said in a text message. “Hopefully any polling discrepancies will be fixed by then.”
Thomas Novelly: 502-582-4465; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @TomNovelly. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/tomn.