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NOT from The Onion: Prisoner convicted of making threats at UNM gets 40.6% of vote against Obama in WV primary

By   /   May 9, 2012  /   No Comments

You read that headline right.

A guy with a New Mexico connection who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison sentence managed to get himself on the ballot in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential race in the West Virginia Democratic primary against President Obama — and has garnered thousands of votes in the Mountaineer State.

And with all precincts reporting, Keith Russell Judd – who spends his days and nights in a federal facility in Texarkana, Texas — picked up 72,459 votes. That’s 40.6 percent, compared to Obama’s 59.4 percent or 105,833 votes.

Keith Russell Judd, convict and presidential candidate

That means that under West Virginia rules, Judd can actually receive at least one delegate vote in the Democratic National Convention later this year.

From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:

Under state and national Democratic Party rules, if little-known Democratic presidential candidate Keith Judd secures 15 percent of the vote in today’s election, he will technically be entitled to have at least one delegate from West Virginia at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Judd cleared that 15 percent hurdle easily, which prompted West Virginia Wesleyan political science professor Robert Rupp to tell the Gazette on the eve of the primary, “Can you see the media circus they’ll have with West Virginia if that happens?”

All told, the convict outperformed the President in 10 West Virginia counties.

Let’s try to explain this thing by first telling you about Judd.

He was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 210 months in prison after making threats at the University of New Mexico 13 years ago. Details are sketchy and the best we could find on the Internet on Tuesday night was a story from the Houston Press that said, “We can’t find much on his 1999 conviction, other than that he made threats over the telephone.”

Judd has an intense interest in politics and in recent years has filed with the Federal Election Commission to get on the ballot in various states as a presidential candidate. And he actually succeeded in 2008 to get on the ballot in Idaho, appearing with Obama and Hillary Clinton. I looked it up. Judd received 734 votes in the Potato State that year — 2 percent of the total in the Dem primary.

How does a guy sitting in prison get on the ballot? Well, Judd seems to target states with relatively easy requirements for candidates. For example, in Idaho candidates don’t need to collect signatures. They just have to pay the $1,000 filing fee and fill out a form.

In West Virginia, the requirements are similar to those of Idaho and earlier this year, Judd sent in a check for the state’s $2,500 filing fee. (He must make good money pressing license plates.)

“He is a bonafide candidate,” a spokesman for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office said back in March once Judd’s check cleared.

Obama has been unpopular in West Virginia with the state’s Democratic governor and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin often distancing themselves from the president’s stances. A recent statewide poll has Mitt Romney leading Obama by 17 percent.

Here are some more details about Judd, who could possibly run on the slogan, “A Candidate With Conviction”:

*He lists his full name as Keith Russell Judd but according to Project Vote Smart, he also goes by Mister President, Dark Priest, Rusty and W.D.

*Religion: Rastafarian-Christian

*Family: Married

*His inmate number: 11593-051

*Reports say he’s scheduled for release next year

*He says he ran for governor here in New Mexico in 1994 (I’m in the process of looking that up through the NM Sec of State’s Office website.) Update: I couldn’t find Judd’s name on the results list from the ’94 Democratic or Republican primary for governor as well as the general election for govenor on the SOS website.

*He claims to have bowled a perfect 300 game

*Judd lists his mother as actress Lilian Russell. But she died in 1922 and Judd was born in 1958.

*The Houston Press says Judd lists “ESP” and “telling the future” as his hobbies and talents

More from the Beckley (WV) Register-Herald:

His favorite president? “Richard Nixon: He got us out of Vietnam and began world peace with China and the Soviets.”

Favorite quote? “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country,” President John F. Kennedy.

His first car was a 1962 Chevrolet Bellaire, and favorite television shows are “Gunsmoke,” “Star Trek” and “M*A*S*H.”

Person he would most like to meet, dead or alive? “Mozart — he was cool.”

Favorite food? “I forgot,” he is quoted by Project Vote Smart.

*Found out late tonight that Judd has a Twitter page: https://twitter.com/#!/KeithJudd4Prez and in one of his tweets, he wrote, “I did better than Dick Lugar tonight.”

Here’s more on Tuesday’s primary in West Virginia and Judd’s 40 percent showing from ABC News.

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Since 2010, Rob Nikolewski has covered New Mexico politics and investigated fraud, waste and abuse in government. He also writes an opinion column in the Sunday editions of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Rob joined New Mexico Watchdog after 20 years in television as a sports anchor and reporter. He anchored at MSNBC, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Reno and Boise, winning three regional Emmy awards along the way. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio.