Thrusday, December 31, 1998

Local GOP sad Duncan won't run for governor




BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Word that eastern Kentucky banker Mike Duncan won't seek the Republican nomination for governor next year has left some local GOP leaders disappointed.

        Many Republicans, both here and statewide, saw Mr. Duncan as the best candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Paul Patton in the 1999 gubernatorial race.

        “He was one of the stronger candidates out there,” said Hayes Robertson of Alexandria, a Republican Party strategist and fund-raiser.

        “Political races come down to timing, and I trust Mike's decision that this was not the right time for him to run,” Mr. Robertson said.

        Mr. Duncan, 47, chaired Southgate Republican Jim Bunning's successful U.S. Senate campaign and is a member of the Republican National Committee. He announced in a statement Tuesday he won't run against Mr. Patton, the first governor this century allowed to run for a consecutive term because of a 1993 change in Kentucky election law.

        “After careful consideration of family, business and political factors, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 1999,” Mr. Duncan said.

        “I was honored by those who encouraged me to run and trust that they will understand my decision.”

        Mr. Duncan is the latest Republican to decide against taking on Mr. Patton, an incumbent with high approval ratings in what is still a Democratic state when it comes to voter registrations.

        Others who have pulled themselves from consideration include state Reps. Stan Cave of Lexington and Steve Nunn of Glasgow; Lexington attorney Larry Forgy, who lost the 1995 governor's race to Mr. Patton; and Lexington businessman Jim Host.

        Those still thinking about making the race for the GOP are:

        • Former Gov. Louie Nunn, who was the last Republican to hold the office. He served from 1967 to 1971.

        • Peppy Martin, an advertising and public-relations executive in Bonnieville, who has already formed and closed her exploratory committee.

        • Will T. Scott, who was the Republican nominee for attorney general in 1995. He has likewise formed an exploratory committee to test the waters for a gubernatorial campaign.

        Mr. Duncan is chairman and chief executive officer of Inez Deposit Bank in Martin County. Business considerations played a big role in his decision not to run for office, said 4th District Republican

        Party Chairman Damon Thayer.

        “He's a businessman with a bank to run, and he just gave a year of his life to run Jim Bunning's Senate campaign,” Mr. Thayer said. “A lot of us in Northern Kentucky were pleased with his efforts in the Bunning race and were ready to jump on the Mike Duncan bandwagon.

        “But it's a personal decision, and I don't hold anything against Mike,” he said.

        State Republican Party Chairman Randy Kammerdiener said he was also disappointed by Mr. Duncan's decision.

        “Certainly Mike would have been a good candidate for governor,” Mr. Kammerdiener said. “But it's not easy running for statewide office.

        Republicans still anticipate a primary and are not conceding the race to Mr. Patton, Mr. Kammerdiener said.

        Still, the Republicans are hardly as confident as in the days after the Nov. 3 election, when Mr. Bunning told a gathering of Republican party officials that he would help the GOP “take Paul Patton down.”

        “We still have another month before the filing deadline” of Jan. 31, Mr. Kammerdiener said. “Who knows what could happen.”

       



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