Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Bell wins 4th district primary

He carried all counties

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Don Bell
Boone County — 1,201
Campbell County — 691
Kenton County — 1,217
N.Ky. Total — 3,109
Districtwide — 6,106
Scott Tooley
Boone County — 557
Campbell County — 350
Kenton County — 632
Northern Kentucky Total — 1,539
Districtwide — 2,544
Roger Thoney
Boone County — 310
Campbell County — 467
Kenton County — 444
Northern Kentucky Total — 1,221
Districtwide — 2,030
        FORT MITCHELL — Don Bell, a former U.S. Secret Service agent from Oldham County, won his first election after several tries Tuesday by winning the Republican 4th District Congressional primary.

        Mr. Bell defeated challengers Scott Tooley of Shelby County and Highland Heights resident Roger Thoney on his way to carrying all three Northern Kentucky counties.

        Unofficial totals, with 525 of 557 precincts reporting in the 22-county district, had Mr. Bell with 57 percent of the vote, Mr. Tooley with 24 percent, and Mr. Thoney with 19 percent. Mr. Bell will run against U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a first-term Democrat from Richwood, in No vember's general election.

        “You never know how these things are going to turn out,” Mr. Bell said Tuesday night. “All you can do is get out there and hope the voters get behind you.”

        Mr. Bell, who has run unsuccessfully for state and local office, displayed none of the election night bravado that often accompanies a win.

        Instead he was almost humble, calling himself the underdog and maintaining that he has to convince Republicans that he can beat a moderate-to-conservative Democrat like Mr. Lucas in the fall.

        “I have to start from ground zero,” Mr. Bell said from his home in the far western end of the district.

        “... I can't compete with (Mr. Lucas') campaign money or incumbency, so I have to make up for that in other ways. I have to get out and get organized and convince voters and Republicans I can win this race and that I'm a viable candidate who knows what he is doing.”

        Many local Republicans were surprised the candidates did not make more of an effort to win votes in Northern Kentucky, the largest GOP stronghold in the district.

        There was no advertising from the candidates, no local forums or debates and no campaign events like rallies or town hall meetings.

        All three campaigns, however, suffered from a lack of money. They raised less than $25,000 combined.

        Mr. Lucas has raised more than $500,000 since he was elected in November 1998 and has nearly $400,000 in campaign cash on hand.

        He will likely raise more than $1 million for this race.

        Kentucky GOP Vice Chairman Damon Thayer said Mr. Bell needs to change his posture for the fall campaign.

        “Don Bell needs to take advantage of this momentum and quickly get his campaign going,” Mr. Thayer said.


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