Kentucky delegation goes for Obama

Kentucky's Democratic delegation cast a majority of its 60 votes for Sen. Barack Obama after a hectic and sometimes emotional day for both Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton loyalists.

When Kentucky's turn came in the state roll call at the Democratic National Convention, Gov. Steve Beshear announced on the floor of the Pepsi Center in Denver that the Bluegrass state would give 36 votes to Obama and 24 to Clinton.

Entering the convention, 37 of the delegates were pledged to Clinton based on the May 20 primary results. And three of the nine "superdelegates" in the convention who could choose which candidate to back were Clinton supporters.

But Clinton, on Wednesday, followed up her pledge of support for Obama in Tuesday night's speech by telling her supporters and pledged delegates that they could vote to nominate Obama on the floor.

"She did tell the delegates that she was releasing them to vote the way they felt like they needed to vote," said Carolyn Belcher, the Bath County judge-executive and pledged Clinton delegate from Kentucky's 4th Congressional District.

Terry McBrayer, one of Clinton's three superdelegates from the state, said Clinton made it clear in both speeches that the delegates needed to do what was best for the party. McBrayer said he put his vote in for Obama.

"She said she had already cast hers for Obama," said McBrayer, who is close to the Clintons. But he said he understood why many Kentucky Clinton supporters had a hard time doing that. "A lot of people worked very, very hard for her, and you just don't make that switch overnight," McBrayer said.

Belcher said the Kentucky delegates talked about their various positions during a Wednesday breakfast meeting that at times got emotional.

"I told them I'm a Hillary delegate from the 4th Congressional District and I feel a responsibility to the people back home," she said she told Kentuckians at the breakfast. "I will be casting my vote here at the convention for Hillary, but I will be supporting Obama this fall."

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who supported Obama in the primary, said he lobbied Kentucky's Clinton delegates all day to vote for Obama to reinforce the theme of unity that the Democratic Party has stressed all week.

"Kentucky would be well-served to have a majority of votes go to Obama," he said. But he praised Clinton for her speech, particularly her line about whether the delegates were "in it" for her or for the issues of improving health care and jobs.

"I've been really impressed with Hillary Clinton, much more after that speech than I ever have been," Chandler said. "My appreciation for her has grown markedly."