by MINJAE PARK
A Texas inmate on Tuesday picked up a surprising 41 percent of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic primary against President Barack Obama, who finished with 59 percent. His surprising popularity has generated national media attention, but it’s hardly the first political rodeo for the federal inmate.
Keith Judd, 53, an inmate in Texarkana’s Federal Correctional Institution, garnered more than 70,000 votes from West Virginia voters, compared to Obama’s 106,000 and outpolled the president in eight of the state’s 55 counties. Judd is serving 17-and-a-half years for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999.
Judd has run for president every election year since 1996, and he ran for mayor of Albuquerque and governor of New Mexico in the 1990s, according to his profile on VoteSmart.org. His profile also says his affiliations include “founder, World Peace Through Musical Communications Skills, 1963-present” and, in the past, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association.
Judd was also on the Democratic presidential primary ballot in Idaho in 2008 and picked up 1.7 percent of the vote behind Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Judd made the West Virginia ballot thanks to the state’s liberal ballot access laws, according to The Charleston Gazette, having filed the $2,500 fee and completed a notarized form. By earning more than 15 percent of the vote, Judd is entitled to one delegate from West Virginia, but no one has so far stepped forward to attend the Democratic National Convention on his behalf. State Democratic officials are looking into whether he will be awarded any delegates.
West Virginia has been hostile territory for Obama. He lost the Democratic primary there in 2008 to Clinton by 41 points and lost the general election to Sen. John McCain by 13 points. The most recent state-by-state Gallup poll showed Obama’s approval rating in West Virginia at 32.7 percent.
MINJAE PARK reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.