Gertrude Baines’ 114-year-old fingers were wrapped lightly over the ballpoint pen as she bubbled in No. 18 on her ballot Tuesday. Her mouth curled in a smile. A laugh escaped. The deed was done.
A daughter of former slaves, Baines had just voted for a black man to be president. “What’s his name? I can’t say it,” she said shyly afterward. Those who helped her fill out the absentee ballot chimed in: “Barack Obama.”
Baines is the world’s oldest person of black descent, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates claims of extreme old age. She is the third-oldest person in the world, and the second-oldest in the United States after Edna Parker, of Indiana, who is 115.
Baines grew up in Georgia during a time when black people were prevented from voting. In her lifetime, she has seen women gain the right to vote, and drastic changes to federal voting laws and to the Constitution – and now, this.
“No, I didn’t never think I’d live this long,” she said.
Schweitzer wins second term as Montana governor
Democrat Brian Schweitzer won a second term Tuesday as governor of Montana, defeating Republican state Sen. Roy Brown on a promise of continuing his energy and economic policies.
With 8 percent of precincts reporting, Schweitzer was leading 68 percent to Brown’s 30 percent. Libertarian candidate Stan Jones was drawing 2 percent of the vote.
Schweitzer, whose national profile soared in the wake of a widely praised speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, campaigned on what he called a proven record of economic successes.
“This is a referendum,” Schweitzer said. “And simply stated, Montana has agreed that we need four more years that guarantees people have access for hunting and fishing and camping. And Montana has agreed … we have a conservative fiscal management system. And Montana has agreed we have invested in education.”
On duty in Iraq and unable to campaign, auditor wins
Vermont State Auditor Thomas Salmon – who’s serving with the U.S. Naval Reserve in Iraq – won re-election Tuesday despite not being allowed to campaign.
Salmon, a 45-year-old certified professional accountant, was deployed in June. Under Pentagon rules, he wasn’t allowed to participate in his re-election campaign. So his wife, campaign manager and father – former Gov. Thomas Salmon – ran the campaign without him.
Salmon, a Democrat, was well ahead of Progressive Party candidate Martha Abbott and Liberty Union candidate Jerry Levy.
FORT WORTH, Texas
Company will recycle plastic yard signs for free
The election’s over, but the yard signs live on.
This year, however, an Arlington, Texas, printing company is giving residents a way to recycle the corrugated plastic signs.
The company can’t recycle cardboard signs coated with plastic, but it will take any corrugated plastic political yard sign and convert it into plastic pellets. The service is free.
Kim Mote, Fort Worth’s assistant director of environmental management, is glad that these political leftovers will not go to waste.
“I think it’s a great idea. I really applaud the company for doing that,” Mote said. “I’m a big believer in environmental stewardship.”
Bush spends Election Day celebrating wife’s birthday
As the Republican Party grappled with devastating losses across the country, President Bush spent Election Day eating coconut cake at the White House in honor of his wife’s 62nd birthday.
Bush, who has avoided public appearances over the past four days, had an “enjoyable dinner” with several friends and senior aides in the Old Family Dining Room, according to White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Perino said Bush gave the first lady “a pair of beautiful earrings” as a gift.
The gathering began with a toast by the president, who ended by saying, “And may God bless whoever wins tonight.”
Perdue elected first woman governor of North Carolina
The good ol’ boys in coastal Craven County discouraged hospital administrator Bev Perdue from running for the state Legislature 22 years ago. They didn’t think a woman could win in the rural district.
Perdue ran anyway and won, starting a journey that has carried her all the way to North Carolina’s Executive Mansion.
Perdue, a Democrat, was elected North Carolina’s first female governor by narrowly defeating Republican Pat McCrory, mayor of Charlotte. She succeeds Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who was barred by term limits from running for re-election.
“I’m all about breaking down glass ceilings,” Perdue said recently. “I’m all about breaking down the status quo.”