Monday, August 21, 2000

Ky. Democrats spurn convention


'There's no votes in L.A.'

By Nancy Zuckerbrod
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — Congressional challengers sometimes attend national party conventions to hobnob with party activists and hit up donors for campaign cash.

        But that was not the case this year for most of the Kentuckians challenging the state's U.S. House incumbents.

        Staying home was a clear choice for some of the challengers, but attending the convention was never really an option for others.

        “I would have loved to go,” said a wistful Sidney Jane Bailey, a Democrat who is running against 5th District Rep. Hal Rogers.

        Ms. Bailey, soundly defeated by Mr. Rogers in the last election, said state Democratic officials did not invite her to go with the delegation to the party's convention last week in Los Angeles.

        Ms. Bailey said she thought about heading out there anyway, but decided in the end she could not afford it.

        Brian Pedigo, running against 2nd District Rep. Ron Lewis, had the same problem.

        “I just didn't have the money in the bank to make the trip out there,” said the Glasgow liquor store manag er.

        Mr. Pedigo said about two weeks ago he received a few invitations to parties taking place in Los Angeles, but it was not enough notice to get a hotel room or an inexpensive flight.

        Mr. Pedigo said he tried to take advantage of the convention's momentum from afar.

        “I figure while the convention is going on some of the Democrats in this area might be more willing to write some checks,” he said.

        The only congressional challenger from Kentucky seen at either one of the conventions was Democratic state Rep. Eleanor Jordan, who had a Wednesday afternoon speaking role in Los Angeles.

        “That was just a really a great honor,” Ms. Jordan said of the opportunity to address the delegates.

        She hopes to unseat Republican Rep. Anne Northup of Louisville in what is shaping up to be an expensive battle.

        Ms. Northup had roughly $1.2 million on hand and Ms. Jordan had about $500,000 at the close of the last federal campaign filing period.

        Emily's List, a network that helps finance campaigns of Democratic women who support legalized abortion, is backing Ms. Jordan, and the group had a significant presence at the convention.

        “I think it will certainly be an opportunity to meet some of the donors from Emily's List,” Ms. Jordan said before the convention. “I want to thank them for their previous support and, of course, re-solicit.”

        The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee played host to “thank you” parties in Los Angeles for donors during the convention, but candidates were not pressured to attend, spokesman John Del Cecato said.

        “Every candidate runs their campaign differently. For some it makes sense to meet with some of the national Democratic figures. For others it's more important to stay home and campaign than journey to Califor nia,” Mr. Del Cecato said.

        Former Rep. Scotty Baesler, who is challenging Rep. Ernie Fletcher in an effort to win back his old Lexington-area seat, opted to stay home.

        “He knew Ernie was going to be in the district here, and this was where he needed to be,” Baesler spokesman Eric Gregory said. “There's no votes in L.A.”

        Democrat Brian Roy, challenging Rep. Ed Whitfield in the 1st District, also decided to stay home even though he says Democratic leaders encouraged him to attend the convention.

        “We felt like we needed to stay here and get votes,” Mr. Roy said, though he added, “Someday as an incumbent I plan on going.”
       

ON THE NET

               • Ky.Democrats: http://kydems.campaignoffice
       .com

        • Ky.Republicans: http://www.rpk.org

       



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