Sunday, September 03, 2000

Handicapping political races

        As we listen to various pols drop names like Kenton County attorney Garry Edmondson has dropped pounds — Joe Lieberman and God, Eric Deters and Pete Rose — let's take a Labor Day look at some of the more interesting political races in Northern Kentucky this year and make some well-hedged bets:

Presidential race
               Candidates: Al Gore and Mr. Lieberman, Democrats; George W.
Bush and Dick Cheney, Republicans.

        Where the race stands: Are you kidding? The Republicans will take Northern Kentucky like Goths took Rome. No prisoners.

        The outcome could hinge on: Mr. Bush still being alive on Election Day. The only way the Dems are going to win this region is if Mr. Bush is dead. And it would probably still be close.

4th U.S. House district
               Candidates: Democratic incumbent Ken Lucas of Boone County and Republican Don Bell of Oldham County.

        Where the race stands: Even though this is considered a Republican district, Mr. Lucas often votes and acts like a member of the GOP, such as when he chose not to attend the Democratic National Convention. He has also yet to endorse Mr. Gore.

        Mr. Lucas is a native of Northern Kentucky — where about half the district's voters live.

        The outcome could hinge on: Republicans not crossing over and voting for Mr. Lucas after they vote for Mr. Bush. But the presidential candidate's coattails probably won't be that long.

Covington mayor
               Candidates: Butch Callery and Bernie Moorman.

        Where the race stands: Tight. Too tight to call. This is going to be a hard-fought race between two experienced pols with long histories of service to the city and the community.

        The outcome could hinge on: Mr. Moorman cutting into Mr. Callery's strong Latonia base.

State senator, 11th District
               Candidates: Incumbent Republican Sen. Dick Roeding of Lakeside Park and Democrat John Stephenson of Fort Mitchell.

        Where the race stands: Mr. Roeding represents one of the strongest GOP strongholds in the state — the Dixie Highway corridor suburbs in Kenton County and all of Boone County, the largest Republican-controlled county in Kentucky.

        He also has about 20 times more money than Mr. Stephenson and a more organized campaign team.

        Mr. Stephenson can be interesting, passionate and entertaining, but he is going after a seat FDR couldn't win.

        The outcome could hinge on: Hell freezing over.

State senator, 23rd District
               Candidates: Incumbent Republican Jack Westwood of Erlanger and Democrat Jaimie Henson of Independence.

        Where the race stands: Again, this is going to be a tough race for a Democrat to win, especially with the big GOP turnout for Mr. Bush. Mr. Westwood has also shown an ability to raise money and has been knocking on doors like a Girl Scout selling cookies.

        The outcome could hinge on: Members of the medical community staying away from the voting booths this year. Health care contributors poured lots of bucks and volunteer hours into Mr. Westwood's campaign four years ago, feeding his upset win.

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