Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Winner facing uphill battle

Stephenson gets Democratic nod

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — John Stephenson of Fort Mitchell won Tueday's Kentucky Senate 11th District Democratic Primary over lawyer Ed Kagin of Union — an outspoken critic of religion and a supporter of abortion — by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio.

11th District Ky. Senate
John Stephenson — 1,764
Ed Kagin — 893
        But the political terrain will get vastly more difficult for Mr. Stephenson, 54, as he tries to defeat popular GOP incumbent Dick Roeding this fall in one of the most staunchly Republican legislative districts in Northern Kentucky.

        The 11th Senate District takes in the heavily Republican Kenton County suburbs of Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright and Villa Hills, as well as all of Boone County, the largest GOP-controlled county in Kentucky.

        Mr. Roeding, who has held the seat for a decade, is widely known in the district. He already has raised more than $70,000 in campaign money and could double that by the fall. As a member of the Senate Republican leadership, Mr. Roeding can expect support and donations from statewide sources.

        Mr. Stephenson said he intends to parlay the fact that he once lived in Boone County and has relatives there into votes in November. “While I will not be a resident Senator ... I will work to be the kind of senator of whom Boone County can be proud,” he said.

        Mr. Stephenson said he will run on a platform that includes lowering taxes, including the property tax on vehicles and boats; increasing oversight into how education dollars are spent; and pushing for a patients' bill of rights.

        Mr. Stephenson is a former teacher and real estate broker. He became the last Northern Kentuckian elected to statewide office when in 1991 he was elected to the job of superintendent of public instruction.

        Though Democrats would love to beat Mr. Roeding, they can hardly revel in Mr. Stephenson's primary victory. His competition, Mr. Kagin, virtually guaranteed his rejection by the district's conservative voters by railing against organized religion and anti-abortionists.

        And four years ago, Mr. Roeding easily kept his seat by beating Boone County Democrat Sandra Easton by nearly 14,000 votes.


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