Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Let's vote to get this over with

Politicians get edgy with two weeks to go until election

        Everybody is mad, everybody is tense, everybody is in a bad mood. Must be two weeks before an election.

        A political writer doesn't need to look at the calendar. He or she can check the date by tracking the collective mood swing of candidates, their supporters and staff.

        Along about late October in every election year the gloves come off and the swearing comes out. My voice mail is loaded every morning, especially after a weekend when people can sit around and come up with suggestions about where to stick my column and assertions that I harbor a deep Oedipus complex. My e-mail looks like a “talk dirty to me” Web site.

        Luckily, I can take it. Covering politics in Northern Kentucky for the past six years has given me a hide as tough as a truck stop steak, a skin as thick as coal mine sludge.

        Besides, I'm used to it.

        But just look at all the venom flying around as we creep toward Election Day.

        Gov. Paul Patton, a Democrat, and Republican Senate President David Williams are going at it like a couple of pro wrestlers.

        Against the backdrop of both parties trying to win control of the state Senate,
Mr. Patton rolled out a story that Mr. Williams had originally promised to support a seven-cent gas tax but then reneged on the agreement.

        “David Williams' credibility is nonexistent,” the governor said.

        That prompted Mr. Williams to say that during the meeting last year when the gas tax was discussed, Mr. Patton was “inebriated” and acting like a “mouthy drunk.”

        Well, at least two of our top state officials aren't letting the pressures of a tough election get to them. Geez, back away from the ledge, guys.

        Let's look in at the 4th District U.S. House race, where Republican Don Bell and his campaign manager, Independence lawyer Eric Deters, are mad that I called incumbent Ken Lucas a Republican when he is actually a Democrat.

        “You blew the election for us,” Mr. Deters hollered at me over the phone.

        “We have issues to discuss,” Mr. Bell warned in a voice mail message.

        Hey, I shouldn't have called Mr. Lucas a Republican, but costing you the election? I could have called Mr. Lucas “David Koresh” and Mr. Bell “Jesus Christ” and I couldn't sway that election.

        Then there's the state Senate race in Kenton County between incumbent Republican Dick Roeding and Democrat John Stephenson.

        The Roeding camp is mad that I'm poking fun at a campaign flier that has so many mistakes it looks like my raw copy.

        In the flier, Mr. Roeding promises to push for education “refrom” and be “commited” to improve our health care.

        Whoever put that together for Mr. Roeding — apparently it was a campaign volunteer — writes like George W. Bush talks.

        And finally the nastiness continues to fly over Republican Jack Westwood after he ducked out of a debate last week with Democrat Jaimie Henson.

        Mr. Westwood, who is seeking re-election to the state Senate, didn't want the debate at Covington's Ninth Street Baptist Church recorded. When the Rev. Richard Fowler refused to make a cable television public-access producer leave the event, Mr. Westwood bolted.

        That prompted a simply lovely letter from a Florence resident who wrote that the Rev. Mr. Fowler should “get the hell out of politics.”

        “Can't we all just get along?” you might ask.

        Sure we can — on Nov. 8.

        E-mail Pcrowley9@home.com.


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