Geoff Davis won election to an open U.S. House seat Tuesday, defeating a celebrity candidate, Democrat Nick Clooney, to reclaim the 4th District for Republicans and avenge a bitter defeat two years ago.
Davis' victory left Democrats with just one of Kentucky's six congressional seats after briefly holding two. The other four GOP incumbents swept to easy wins.
Davis, a manufacturing consultant from Hebron, overcame Clooney's famous name—his son is actor George Clooney.
"This defeat has nothing to do with the ideals of the Democratic Party," Clooney said. "They are intact. We just picked the wrong candidate this time" — which brought screams of "No" from his supporters.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Davis had 154,064 votes, or 55 percent, and Clooney had 123,581 or 44 percent. Independent candidate Michael Slider had 4,813 votes, or 2 percent.
Clooney had a household name as a former Cincinnati television anchorman. His famous family also included his sister, the late singer-actress Rosemary Clooney.
Davis touted his business experience as a manufacturing consultant plus his military background as a former Army helicopter pilot.
National Republicans had targeted the seat, and Davis campaigned with a lineup of Republican heavy hitters that included Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Clooney kept his distance from national Democrats and touted himself as independent-minded.
In the 3rd District, Republican Anne Northup won re-election to a fifth term, defeating Democratic challenger Tony Miller, the longtime circuit court clerk in Jefferson County.
Northup, a biennial target of national Democrats, was headed to her biggest margin of victory in the mostly Democratic Louisville district. Northup touted her ability to deliver federal money for the district and her efforts to get two new Ohio River bridges built.
Her ability to draw Democratic support was on display as she proclaimed victory. Several prominent Democrats — including previous opponent Chris Gorman — crowded around Northup as she thanked supporters Tuesday night.
"There are some people on this stage who have never been on this stage before with me," she said. "These are Democrats who reached across the aisle who we've had a chance to work with."
With 95 percent of the precincts reporting, Northup had 186,745 votes, or 60 percent, and Miller had 117,392 votes, or 38 percent. Libertarian George Dick had 5,954 votes, or 2 percent.
Northup had never gotten more than 53 percent of the vote in her previous races.
In central Kentucky's 6th District, Democrat Ben Chandler won his first full term after winning a special election months ago. Chandler defeated Republican state Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Chandler had 160,528 votes or 59 percent, and Buford had 109,411 votes or 40 percent. Two other candidates each got about 1 percent of the vote.
Elsewhere, Rep. Ron Lewis defeated Democrat Adam Smith in the 2nd District to win a sixth full term.
With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Lewis had 157,717 votes, or 67 percent, and Smith had 76,680 votes, or 33 percent.
In the 1st District, fifth-term Rep. Ed Whitfield defeated Democrat Billy Cartwright and write-in candidate Tom Barlow, a former one-term congressman who lost to Whitfield.
With 73 percent of precincts reporting, Whifield had 133,923 votes, or 68 percent, and Cartwright had 62,756 votes, or 32 percent.
Republican Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers ran unopposed and was elected to a 13th term in the 5th District.