Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Gore finds support fleeting

Some N.Ky. Democrats critical

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Al Gore didn't find much support in Northern Kentucky on Election Day and is getting less now — even from members of his own party.

        Some Democratic elected officials in Northern Kentucky said Monday that Mr. Gore should drop his protracted legal fight in Florida and concede the presidency to Republican George W. Bush.
       “It's embarrassing,” Campbell County Sheriff John Dunn said. “It's time to hang it up. Let the winner win. As far as I'm concerned it's cheapening the whole process,”

        Campbell County Attorney Justin Verst said Mr. Gore has put up a noble, proper legal battle. But it's time for the fight to end.

        “He's taken his shot. He fought the fight, but it's time for him to throw in the towel,” Mr. Verst said. “It's a hot topic of conversation, and everybody's talking about it. But I think people are fed up with it.”

        The response from Democratic officeholders is not all that surprising, given Mr. Gore's dismal local showing in the Nov. 7 election.

        The vice president lost all three Northern Kentucky counties to Mr. Bush, who carried Boone County with 69 percent of the vote, Kenton County with 63 percent and Campbell County with 62 percent.

        Mr. Bush also beat Mr. Gore statewide by 15 percentage points, the first time a Republican had carried Kentucky in a presidential race since Mr. Bush's father did so in 1988.

        Given the Republican Party's growing strength in Northern Kentucky, Democrats are never too quick to jump off the bandwagon or even outright ignore national leaders of their party, includ ing President Clinton.

        It was national news in August when U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Boone County Democrat, stayed home from the Democratic National Convention because of his differences with Mr. Gore over abortion, gun control and other issues.

        Mr. Lucas has remained silent on Florida's legal fight. He is out of the country and not available for comment, his Washington, D.C., office said.

        One Democrat not quiet on the issue is Boone County Democratic Chairman Kristi Nelson.

        “I feel like I'm in the minority on this, but I definitely think Al Gore should continue pursuing this,” Ms. Nelson, a corporate attorney, said Monday.

        She holds that all of the votes cast have not been counted in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

        “That's troubling to me,' she said.

        Ms. Nelson said while what's happening in Florida “is not pretty,” it is proper.

        “I don't think either party has availed themselves of anything that is not a part of our system,” she said. “It's messy, it doesn't come wrapped with a big Christmas bow on it, but this is what happens when a presidential election is this close. It's how our system works.”

        Campbell County Commissioner Dave Otto, a Fort Thomas Democrat, said whoever ultimately wins the election will be damaged by what has taken place in Florida.

        “I think that the Bush transition team needs to get going,” Mr. Otto said from Florida, where he spent the long Thanksgiving weekend.

        “But you had 50 million people vote for each of the candidates. A lot of people are going to be upset by the final result. I've said all along that the winner may end up being the loser in this whole race because of how people are going to react to all of this.”

        County clerks in Northern Kentucky offer a unique perspective to what has seemed like the nonstop counting and recounting of ballots by hand.

        Kenton County Clerk Bill Aylor agrees with some of the other Democrats that Mr. Gore “should give it up,” and said the counties in Florida “seem to be making it up as they go along.”

        “You can't change the rules after the fact,” Mr. Aylor said. “If you say that pregnant chads are good, you have to say that beforehand, not after they have been questioned.”

        Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass said he understands Mr. Gore's position.

        “If I'm in the fight, I want to keep fighting,” he said. “But it's time to look ahead. Enough is enough.”

        Mr. Snodgrass said Northern Kentucky voters should be thankful ballots are cast on machines here and not by hand as in Florida.

        “Kentucky is behind in so many things, but we're way ahead on elections,” he said.


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