Friday, June 30, 2000

Democrat gears up Senate campaign




By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — With a $20,000 war chest and a full-time campaign manager in her camp, Independence Democrat Jaimie Henson is igniting her effort to beat Republican Sen. Jack Westwood in November.

        Mrs. Henson, a former Independence City Council member and mother of four who works as a Delta Air Lines flight attendant, raised about $12,000 Wednesday night during a fund-raiser.

        The event was at the Covington riverfront condo of Jerry Stricker, a former investment firm executive and long-time Democratic contributor and political organizer.

        About 75 guests sipped drinks and ate appetizers as they crowded onto the condo's patio, which overlooks the Roebling Suspension Bridge and provides a stunning view of the Ohio River and the downtown Cincinnati skyline.

        Among those at the fund-raiser were Attorney General Ben Chandler of Woodford County, a Democrat likely to run for governor in three years.

        Mr. Chandler said Mrs. Henson gives the Democrats a chance to elect a woman to the state Senate. There are four women in the Kentucky Senate — including Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas — but all are Republicans.

        “Jaimie Henson is a tremendous candidate for state Senate,” Mr. Chandler said in a brief speech at the fund-raiser.

        “And we (Democrats) don't have any women in the state Senate. As you know, the Democratic Party relies very heavily on family issues and so forth that women tend to be very interested in,” he said.

        “I don't think very many Democrats would do very well at all without women voters. And we need desperately to get more good, qualified women involved in elective office.”

        Mrs. Henson announced last week that she hired, with the help of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Shannon Pratt as her full-time campaign manager.

        Ms. Pratt will be paid $2,500 a month, said caucus director Vince Gabbard. The caucus will provide $2,000 each month with $500 coming from the Henson campaign.

        “We're investing in this seat because it is winnable,” Mr. Gabbard said. “We're going to put money and a lot of time in winning this seat back for the Democratic Party.”

        But winning the race will not be easy, many Democrats are privately conceding.

        Mr. Westwood represents the 23rd Senate District, which includes much of Kenton County. He won the seat four years ago in an upset victory over 16-year statehouse incumbent Joe Meyer.

        Mrs. Henson is not well known among voters in the district, said Marc Wilson, Mr. Westwood's campaign manager.

        Mr. Westwood also has far more money that Mrs. Henson, having raised about $70,000 so far. A big chunk of that — $25,000 — has come from the state Republican Party.

        The contribution from the Kentucky GOP to Mr. Westwood, as well as the money the Democrats are paying Mrs. Henson's campaign manager, show how important the seat is to both parties.

        The Republicans hold a slim 20-18 Senate majority, their first in Kentucky history in the Senate.

        While the GOP is working hard to hold contested seats like Mr. Westwood's to ensure their majority, the Democrats are working equally hard to win those seats back.

        “It's going to be a tough race,” Mrs. Henson told the contributors at her fund-raiser. “I need each one of you behind me, helping me so we can get something accomplished ... and win this seat.”

        Among the contributors attending the event were:

       

  • Northern Kentucky union leaders Wayne Whalen and Jim Cole of the Northern Ken tucky Labor Council.

            „Businessmen Wayne Carlisle, Richard Crist and Ray Beil.

            „Lexington socialite Anita Madden, known for her Kentucky Derby parties.

            „Sally Davis of Gov. Paul Patton's office. Mr. Patton has pledged to help raise money for Mrs. Henson and help her win the seat.

            „Democratic Party leaders Peggy Zeil, Mabel Ballinger and Jimmy Williams.

            „Attorneys Jim Poston and Roger Peterman.

            „Democratic elected officials, including Covington Mayor Jim Eggemeier, Covington Commissioner Jerry Bamberger, Kenton County Magistrate Steve Hoffmann and Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Don Buring.

           



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