Democrats Cede Panhandle

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Republican leaders here in the Panhandle have made major strides in the last two decades, converting Democrats and signing up new voters, so much so that Republican voters now lead the democrats in several area counties, but Democratic leaders say they're not giving up on the Panhandle and that the recent election was a result of people not wanting to change horses midstream.

Should the Democrats be ready to turn over the predominately registered Democratic Panhandle to the Republicans after the 2004 election?

Not so fast says the Democratic leaders in Jackson County.

"If it had not been for wartime, if 9/11 would have never happened, I don't think he would be in the White House because a lot of people voted based on what has happened since then,” explains Jackson County Democratic Party Chairman Robert J. Carpenter.
Though U.S. Senate candidate Betty Castor only received 44 percent of the vote in Jackson County, local Democrats remain optimistic and blame the results on circumstance and the president’s endorsement of Republican candidate Mel Martinez.

Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Stephens says that there was nothing unusual about Jackson Counties voting trend this past election.

"Jackson County voting for a Republican president or senators, that's nothing new. Just because they're registered one party doesn't mean they vote a straight ticket,” says Stephens.

Since 1964 only two Democratic presidential candidates Herbert Humphrey and Jimmy Carter received more votes in Jackson County than the Republican candidate.

In 1999 Jackson County only had 1,200 registered Republicans. Now there are more than 6,000 in a county with 27,000 registered voters.