Tennessee 5th Congressional District candidate Kurt Winstead won’t say whether he voted for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the 2008 Tennessee Democrat presidential preference primary.
The Tennessee Star reached out to Winstead’s campaign, asking if they could provide a comment as to whether Kurt Winstead voted for Clinton or Obama in 2008.
“He didn’t vote for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and only participated in an attempt to choose the weakest candidate. As a former State Republican Party chairman I’ve seen this done a lot,” Chris Devaney, Winstead’s campaign strategist, said.
The Star wrote back and asked Devaney, “Are you saying he did not check a box, cast a vote, or however one would want to describe it, that marked either Obama or Clinton?”
The Star asked for further clarification and noted in the inquiry that the race was between Clinton and Obama when the Democrat presidential preference primary took place on February 5, 2008. If Winstead was trying to either prolong the race, or cast a vote for the “weakest candidate” according to Devaney’s statement, it is likely that the vote would have been cast in the name of Obama or Clinton.
The Winstead campaign’s reply did not clarify which candidate received Winstead’s vote.
“It’s been awhile, but there were actually eight people on the Democratic ballot in Tennessee in 2008,” replied Devaney.
Research shows that eight candidates were, in fact, on the Tennessee Democrat presidential ballot in 2008.
Clinton, Obama, President Joe Biden, former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC), former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, former U.S. Representative Denis Kucinich (D-OH-10), former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and former Alaska Governor Mike Gravel were technically on the February 5, 2008 Democrat ballot.
However, all but Clinton, Obama, and Gravel had dropped out of the race by that point. Clinton won Tennessee with 53.82 percent of the vote, and Obama received 40.48 percent of the vote.
That same year, as previously reported, Winstead donated $300 to Democrat Bob Tuke’s U.S. Senate campaign. Tuke went on to lose to former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. He also donated $200 to the State Senate campaign of Democrat Jim Hawkins, who lost to former State Senator and former U.S. Representative Diane Black.
Winstead’s donation and voting history come into direct contrast with statements made by his campaign and in advertising. Winstead previously said, “I have been a conservative since conception, and I’ve been blessed to have a career outside politics. Our message is resonating with voters in the district, as our campaign continues to gain momentum.”
In 2006, Winstead donated $1,000 to Democrat U.S. Senate nominee and former U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr. in the race against former U.S. Senator Bob Corker. A year later, records show Kurt Winstead donated $250 to the Tennessee Democratic Party.
In 2010, Winstead donated $1,000 to Democrat Brett Carter, who lost in the 6th Congressional District race against Black.
Regarding state level campaigns, a search of the Tennessee Online Campaign Finance website, which contains campaign finance reports dating back to at least 2000, shows that Winstead personally donated on several occasions to Democrat campaigns.
In 2005 and 2006, Winstead is listed as donating $1,000 each year to former Tennessee Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen’s political action committee. Bredesen won his 2006 re-election campaign against Republican Jim Bryson.
In 2006, Winstead additionally donated $250 to Democrat Mary Parker, who lost to now-State Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson in the November general election, and $250 to former Democrat State Senator Lowe Finney’s campaign.
In 2010, Winstead donated $250 to the Democrat gubernatorial campaign of Michael McWherter, who lost to former Governor Bill Haslam.
In 2013, he donated $250 to Democrat Judge Phil Smith, a Davidson County Circuit Court judge.
Additionally, Winstead’s voting history, provided by Williamson County election officials, show that in addition to his vote in the Democrat presidential preference primary in 2008, he pulled a Democrat ballot in the August 2000 primary, and voted in the Democrat August primary in 1994.
A spokesman for the Winstead campaign emailed The Star Thursday afternoon and said, “Winstead has given 5 times the amount to Republicans than Democrats. I can get you that information. It needs to be pointed out.”
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Editor’s note: The headline for this article has been updated to reflect that Winstead, thus far, has declined to state whom he voted for in the 2008 Democratic primary election in Tennessee. The article is updated to include the campaign’s additional statement that Winstead has contributed to Republicans more than Democrats.