Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Yes, already

Talking begins for governor in '03

        With Kentucky's November election past and with a General Assembly session looming, speculation about possible candidate slates for the 2003 governor's race will certainly be a topic of conversation at some holiday parties.

        Before you make sure to miss those parties — who wants to talk about politics when there are open bars and buffet tables to raid? — some of the word is already getting as juicy as one of Jim Willman's Honey Baked Hams.

        For starters, there are lots of Northern Kentucky pols from both parties on the short lists being made by potential gubernatorial candidates looking for lieutenant governor running mates.

        The most intriguing rumor flying around Frankfort is a Democratic ticket of former Gov. Brereton Jones of Versailles in central Kentucky and House Floor Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg in the Eastern Kentucky mountains, a lawmaker colleagues often call the smartest pol in the legislature.

        A Jones-Stumbo ticket would be interesting, given that both candidates bring big names and lots of experience to the table. Of course, experience can hurt a candidate as much as help, because a long record gives opponents plenty of fodder for attacks.

        Democrats gearing up to make a run include House Speaker Jody Richards, Attorney General Ben Chandler and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, also known as “Mr. America,” what with his recent marriage to former Miss America Heather French. (By the way, lots of folks think she ought to be the candidate. But that's another column.)

        Among the Northern Kentucky Democrats being mentioned as possible lieutenant governor candidates are Erlanger lawyer Bill Robinson, Edgewood lawyer Mark Guilfoyle and House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan.

        None have talked publicly about the race, but all are being seriously looked at.

        On the GOP side, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset has all the cards. If he decides to run, other Republicans will move out of the way, unlike the Democrats, who are set for a primary that will make scenes from Gladiator look like Sesame Street.

        If Mr. Rogers decides to stay in Washington, the GOP will turn to Senate President David Williams or Jefferson County Judge-executive Rebecca Jackson. Complicating the mix is Joseph Lambert, chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court. He may also run on the Republican slate.

        Chief Justice Lambert has already talked to Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore about running on his ticket. Other Republicans who could emerge on a gubernatorial ticket include Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd, Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery, state Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas and Crescent Springs lawyer Lawson Walker.

        Why are we talking about this now?

        Because lawmakers are preparing for a February legislative session, and those with aspirations to run will be doing more jockeying than the riders out at Turfway Park.

        “It will be shameless, frequent and in our faces all the time,” a Northern Kentucky lawmaker said. “The race is still a couple of years away, but people are already running for governor and lieutenant governor, and that will be obvious during the session.”

       Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or by e-mail at


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