Thursday, March 25, 1999

Draud hits, gets hit like a candidate




BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        State Rep. Jon Draud, a Crestview Hills Republican, says he hasn't yet decided whether he'll run for Congress next year against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas of Boone County.

        But Mr. Draud surely sounded like a candidate in a press release he sent out this week that slaps Mr. Lucas around.

        Mr. Draud is incensed about Mr. Lucas' plan to form a 4th District education advisory council of educators, parents, students and others. The group will provide suggestions and concerns about education needs and issues in the district, Mr. Lucas said.

        Mr. Draud, retired superintendent of the Ludlow schools and a Northern Kentucky University instructor, said Congress should stay out of education. “Our citizens don't want the federal government controlling the minds of our children,” he said.

        “They would prefer local decision-making instead of having Congressman Lucas and other Washington officials hundreds of miles away spending time and money discussing the number of teachers needed here in the 4th Congressional District,” he said. “Local parents, educators and students should make the decisions for education, not Ken Lucas or Washington officials.”

        Mr. Draud's not running for Congress? Even though he sent the release out the day after a story appeared in the paper about Mr. Lucas' advisory panel? The headline for the release, which Mr. Draud wrote, reads, “Draud Responds to Congressman Lucas.”

        “I'm thinking it over, but I haven't decided if I'll run,” Mr. Draud said.

        “I was responding to Ken Lucas as a legislator and an educator. Education is not supposed to be a national function. The less involvement from Washington, the better it is for our local school districts,” he said.

        Mr. Draud does plan to meet next month and discuss his possible candidacy with U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican who held the 4th District seat for 12 years, and U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, a Louisville Republican who is helping the National Republican Party recruit candidates.

        To absolutely no one's surprise, the Lucas camp loaded up on Mr. Draud.

        “We find it interesting that Jon Draud would oppose Ken Lucas for communicating at a grass-roots level with his constituents,” said Wes Wright, a field representative and spokesman in Mr. Lucas' Fort Mitchell district office.

        John Lapp, Mr. Lucas' chief of staff in Washington, pointed out that Mr. Lucas recently voted for the so-called Ed-Flex bill, which would return money and decision-making power to local school districts.

        “Mr. Draud needs to do his homework,” Mr. Lapp said. “Congressman Lucas just co-sponsored a bill that gives local parents and educators more control, the exact opposite of Mr. Draud's criticism.”

        Mr. Lapp was also kind enough to point out that Kentucky's entire federal delegation, all of whom are Republicans except for Mr. Lucas, voted for the Ed-Flex bill.

        “I guess we should expect Mr. Draud to blast Senators Bunning and (Mitch) McConnell, and Representatives (Hal) Rogers, Northup, (Ernie) Fletcher, (Ed) Whitfield and (Ron) Lewis for voting in favor of local school empowerment in the coming weeks,” he said.

        Get used to it, Mr. Draud, or anybody else who runs.

        Remember, this is the bunch that went off on Howard Feinberg — remember him? — in last year's Democratic primary, and then mangled Republican Gex “Jay” Williams in the general election.

        They are combat-scarred and battle-ready, and any Republican who decides to take Mr. Lucas on is going to get the same harsh treatment.

        Don't take a knife to a gunfight. If you shoot, don't miss, because the target will come back for revenge.

        Hot spots: Northern Kentucky had plenty of its own little battlegrounds last year, with scandal, political warfare and insurgents rising up to defend turf in some local cities.

        Who can forget fights and controversies in Crescent Springs, Alexandria, Villa Hills and Independence?

        So where is the action this year?

        Edgewood is wild, with the residents fighting mad over the proposal to build the Kenton County jail near the city. This is a battle in which Kenton County Fiscal Court is heavily involved.

        In Ludlow, the police department and the city are fighting over a $91,000 grant check. Meanwhile, the city administrator has been put on paid leave while a city audit looks at the city's spending patterns.

        Normally quiet Cold Spring is heating up. Residents are fighting to keep a development from being built near their homes. The police chief has been fired for the second time in six months.

        Alexandria has calmed down, thanks to a new council led by Mayor Dan McGinley, but Crescent Springs and Independence always seem to be smoldering.

        Back in the fold: Former Kenton County surveyor Jimmy Williams has mended some fences with the Democratic Party.

        Upset over the lack of support he received from the party in the last election, he severed ties with the party apparatus.

        But Mr. Williams loves politics and has rejoined the Kenton County Democratic Club. He's also been made an honorary member of the Kenton County Democratic Women's Club, the first male to receive such an honor.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 578-5581, or 502-875-7526 in Frankfort, or by e-mail at crowleys@cinci.infi.net

       



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