Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Protesters swarm Lucas' office

Demand to know whether congressman stands with Gore

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — A group of Northern Kentucky Republicans staged a protest Tuesday in an attempt to see whether Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas supports Al Gore's legal fight over the presidential election.

        The group of about 25, armed with Bush/Cheney campaign signs, met in the parking lot of Mr. Lucas' district office in Fort Mitchell. Then they confronted members of his staff, demanding to know whether the congressman backs Mr. Gore's decision to continue his legal challenge of the results of the election in Florida.

        “Ken Lucas has constituents in Northern Kentucky that want to know how he stands on this issue,” said Campbell County Republican Chairman Barb Haas of Fort Thomas, who helped organize the early afternoon protest.

[photo] Republican protesters descend Tuesday on Rep. Ken Lucas' office in Fort Mitchell to find out whether he backs Al Gore's legal bid to win the presidency.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Said Jay Hall of Florence, a GOP strategist and a member of the state Republican Executive Committee: “We don't know where Ken Lucas stands because he won't tell us.”

        The group did not get the answer it wanted.

        Angie Dixon, director of Mr. Lucas' district office, repeatedly told the Republicans that Mr. Lucas is on a family vacation and cannot be reached.

        “Ken Lucas has not yet made a statement on this, and we are not going to be making any statements today,” a calm Ms. Dixon told the protesters.

        “You're telling us that Ken Lucas did not leave a number where he can be reached in an emergency?” said Ed Moore, chairman of the Boone County Republican Party.

        “He's with his family on a vacation he planned at least a year ago,” Ms. Dixon said. “He will be back later this week, but right now we will be happy to take your name and comments for the congressman.”

        The group spent about 15 minutes inside Mr. Lucas' office. At one point his staff reached John Lapp, Mr. Lucas chief of staff in Washington, and let the Republi cans ask him questions over a speaker phone.

        But Mr. Lapp offered no more information than the group had already been given by other members of Mr. Lucas' staff, angering some of the Republicans.

        “We can't get an answer from anybody,” one woman shouted.

        Though similar protests have reportedly taken place in the districts of other Democratic members of Congress around the country, Mrs. Haas said Tuesday's protest was organized locally.

        “This has nothing to do with the national (Republican) party or anything else,” she said. “This was all organized on the local level.”

        The protest was clearly designed to put political pressure on Mr. Lucas, of Richwood, a Democrat in a largely Republican district who was re-elected to a second term Nov. 7.

        Mr. Lucas rarely aligns himself with national Democratic officials and officeholders. He does not attend when President Clinton visits Kentucky and did not go to this summer's Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, citing differences with Mr. Gore on issues that included abortion and gun control.

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