Sunday, November 05, 2000

Ex-Miss America gets right into swing of politics

        Repeat after me. Only two more days. Only two more days. Only two more days.

        Mrs. Lieutenant Governor. Last month Heather Renee French was ending her reign as Miss America, appearing on national television and getting lots of media run as she traveled around to some really cool places.

        Last week she was wearing a $1 million diamond-studded tiara once worn by Princess Di as she wed Lt. Gov. Steve Henry in the social event of the year — it's been a slow year — in Kentucky.

        Saturday she campaigned for Democratic state Senate candidate Jaimie Henson at the American Legion Hall in Latonia.

        How's that for a wild ride, from Miss America to the Queen of the Stump?

        It hasn't taken Mrs. French Henry long to shed her runway slippers and jump into Kentucky politics with both feet.

        Who cares that just a few short months ago she was a Republican? Now she's standing by her man, having switched parties to become a Democrat.

        Let's not kid ourselves. These love-crazy kids have their sights set on the governor's mansion. If they are going to get there in three years Heather will have to hit the campaign trail, where she certainly will be well-received, what with being a stunning Kentucky gal who wants to work for veterans' rights and probably world peace (like a good Miss America).

        She's proving herself an unpretentious and loyal soldier for the Democratic Party, spending her first weekend as a newlywed trolling for votes in Covington instead of redecorating the lieutenant governor's mansion.

        In what might be a futile task — the Democrats' effort to win back the state Senate — Heather is campaigning for Dems not just in Covington but in Shepherdsville, Louisville, Madisonville and Hopkinsville, all by Election Day.

        And, in the surest sign she understands Democratic politics in Frankfort, it was revealed this week that the taxpayers are putting up $51,900 a year for an assistant whose duties will include coordinating her schedule and handling requests for personal appearances, the first time the lieutenant governor's spouse has had an assistant on the state payroll.

        Get used to Heather in Democratic politics. She's going to be a fixture for a long time to come. Or at least until the end of the next governor's race.

        Immediate input. Lots of ideas are proposed during campaign season but one of the better we've seen comes from Ted Bushelman, the longtime spokesman of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and a candidate for Florence City Council.

        If elected, Mr. Bushelman said, he will set up a computer Web site where residents can register their opinions about issues council is debating or discussing.

        “It, of course, won't be a scientific poll,” he said. “And it won't dictate how I will vote. But it will be a good tool to know what the people of the community feel about issues council is working on.”

        For folks not on the Internet, Mr. Bushelman said he'll establish a phone line where callers can vote “yes” or “no” on an issue.

        But residents will need caller ID to get through. So for those people without caller ID or the Internet, Mr. Bushelman said just give him a call directly.



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- CROWLEY: Ex-Miss America gets right into swing of politics
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