2 felons in running for Knott judge-executive

dhjalmarson@herald-leader.comJanuary 29, 2010 

A man who resigned the Knott County judge-executive's office after being convicted in a vote-buying scheme has filed to run for the office again. Depending on what happens in the primaries, he could face the current judge-executive, who is awaiting results of an appeal in his own vote-buying case.

Each is from a different party, setting up the possibility that two felons will run against each other in the November election.

Donnie Newsome, a Democrat who resigned in 2005 after he lost an appeal in his vote-fraud case, filed to run for office in the past few weeks, said Knott County Clerk Kennith Gayheart. His civil rights were restored Aug. 27, 2008, by Gov. Steve Beshear, said Les Fugate, a spokesman for the Kentucky secretary of state's office. Newsome has voted since then and is an eligible candidate, Gayheart said.

Randy Thompson, who was appointed by then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher to fill Newsome's seat, was sentenced last year to 40 months in prison for a scheme to use county and state money for paving roads and private drives to influence the 2006 election. Thompson, who is free while his court case proceeds, became the first Republican ever to be elected to the Knott County office in 2006.

Newsome is running against two other Democrats in the May primary: Herbert Dean Hall of Kite and Ronnie Watts of Garner. Thompson, of Hindman, is running unopposed in the primary, according to the latest filings with the state elections board.

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