Thursday, June 24, 1999

Roeding golf outing nails the green




BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A little of this, a lot of that.

        • Roeding teed off: State Sen. Dick Roeding, a Lakeside Park Republican, holds his eighth annual golf outing todayat Perry Park in Carroll County. Mr. Roeding and his wife, Nancy, have a condo in the park.

        Though the outing benefits the Republican Party and not Mr. Roeding's own war chest, he is using the sold-out event to kick off his 2000 re-election campaign.

        “We have 130 for golf and 150 for the dinner,'' Mr. Roeding said Wednesday. “That shows me that I do have some support out there.”

        Mr. Roeding, who has served three terms in Frankfort, expects to raise about $30,000 at the outing and dinner.

        Democrats have said they will have candidates — who have not been revealed — to run against two other Northern Kentucky GOP lawmakers next year, state Sen. Jack Westwood of Erlanger and Jon David Reinhardt of Claryville in Campbell County.

        But the Dems have not hinted about trying to unseat Mr. Roeding, who represents two powerhouse GOP areas: Boone County, the largest Republican-controlled county in the state, and most of the Dixie Highway suburbs in Kenton County.

        “I'm not taking anything for granted, ever,” Mr. Roeding said. “I prepare like I'm going to have the biggest challenge of my life.”

        Mr. Roeding is also preparing his agenda for the 2000 legislative session that begins in January.

        Like most, if not all, Northern Kentucky lawmakers, Mr. Roeding wants to eliminate the state's portion of the vehicle license tax that Kentucky residents pay each year when they renew their license tags. That should reduce the tax by about 30 percent.

        As he has done in past sessions, Mr. Roeding wants to seek a solution to problems with individual health insurance policies in Kentucky.

        The General Assembly's past attempts at trying to reform health insurance have been a disaster for those who buy individual policies. Because of burdensome, costly regulations and laws implemented by the state, only one insurer is selling individual policies in Kentucky.

        All the others have fled the state, saying they can't make money here. That has resulted in rising premiums.

        To help solve the problem, Mr. Roeding wants to dedicate about 15 percent of the federal tobacco settlement, which should be about $135 million to $150 million annually to Kentucky for the next 25 years, to a “guaranteed access pool.”

        “Anybody who can't buy or can't afford insurance will be able to purchase insurance at affordable rates through that pool,” he said.

        “That is what some other states have done, and that is what we should do here with at least a portion of the tobacco money,” Mr. Roeding said.

        • A quick study: Ashland Inc. CEO Paul Chellgren has been in Northern Kentucky only since January, when his company moved its headquarters here from eastern Kentucky.

        But he already seems to have a pretty good grasp of the culture in Greater Cincinnati, including how members of the private sector get along a lot better than those in the public sector.

        “Sometimes from a business point of view, I think you could step across” the Ohio River, Mr. Chellgren said during Tuesday night's Covington Business Council Awards Dinner.

        “From a political point of view, sometimes I'm not sure you can see across it.”

        • A Democratic strategy: Lexington attorney Terry McBrayer, a former state Democratic Party chairman and a player on the national political scene, was in Northern Kentucky on Tuesday night talking up Al Gore's presidential campaign.

        Mr. McBrayer, one of the best political speakers around, addressed a group of Democrats who gathered at the home of former Kenton County Commissioner Bernie Moorman.

        Mr. McBrayer said it's too early to be spooked by polls showing Mr. Gore trailing GOP front-runner George W. Bush.

        Mr. Bush “has not gone through all the media scrutiny yet, and he hasn't taken positions on the major issues,” Mr. McBrayer said in an interview. “And every time you take a position on a major issue, you lose votes.”

        The race is also probably going to come down to suburban voters, “the soccer moms who helped elect Bill Clinton,” Mr. McBrayer said.

        On issues important to suburbanites — containing urban and suburban sprawl, education and gun control — Mr. Gore is stronger than Mr. Bush, the Democrat said.

        “Al Gore is way out in front on gun control,” Mr. McBrayer said. “George Bush has embraced the NRA. And let's face it, with the tragic school shoot ings we've had around this country, people in the suburbs are worried about guns.”

        Suburban voters used to be Republicans who wanted lower taxes and fewer government handouts, Mr. McBrayer said.

        “But the dynamics of all that have changed,” he said. “Social problems you used to have in the city, like guns and shootings and traffic jams, are coming to the suburbs.

        “And Al Gore is on the right side of all those issues.”

        Kentucky Republican Party Vice Chairman Damon Thayer said the Democrats are “desperate” with Mr. Gore as their nominee.

        “It's going to be our year,” Mr. Thayer said.

        Mr. Bush has also undergone plenty of media scrutiny over the last two years. he said.

        “George Bush doesn't need me to defend him,” Mr. Thayer said. “He's come out swinging. I like his style. And it's pretty clear that Democrats at all levels are just reponding to him.

        “We've got them on the run.”

        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.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for the Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or (502) 875-7526 in Frankfort.

CROWLEY ARCHIVE