Sunday, January 28, 2001

Democrats gleeful over breakfast

        FORT MITCHELL — The Kenton County Democrats had such a successful fund-raiser/party-building breakfast last week, I thought I had walked into a Republican event.

        There were chairs lined against the wall to accommodate the overflow breakfast crowd. The speakers were good. The room was packed with a variety of diverse constituencies — old, young, male, female, party leaders, elected officials, labor folks, prospective candidates. That hasn't always been the case at Democratic gatherings.

        Even the Dems themselves were a little surprised at the turnout. Organizers originally had booked a room at the Drawbridge Inn for 150 people, then downsized to a smaller room for 75 amid concerns about a small crowd.

        But when more than 100 showed up, the Dems gleefully hauled in chairs from an adjoining room.

        “This wasn't just a homerun; it was a grand slam,” boasted Edgewood
Democrat Mark Guilfoyle, an attorney most Republicans expect will make a run at GOP Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd in two years.

        When you hit one out of the park about as often as a Reds' relief pitcher, anything that travels out of the infield is going to look good.

        So let's, finally, give the Democrats some credit for doing what the Republicans have done so well over the last few years — namely, holding events, parties and gatherings that attract hordes of people, raise lots of money and get people excited about the party and its candidates.

        Democrats paid $100 a pop for the breakfast, which not only included muffins and bagels but also admission to The Truman Club, a previously dormant fund-raising group that seems to have been dead about as long as its namesake.

        But it's a new day for the Democrats, we were told at the breakfast, and Republicans had better watch out.

        I'm not quite ready to declare the Democrats the party of the future. The breakfast was a nice start, but that's all it was. Though Democrats should be encouraged by the obvious youth movement in the party, the effort to recruit candidates, and the overall attempt to do something — anything — to revitalize a party that couldn't fall much lower.

        But on the same day last week when the Democrats were so full of optimism, Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson dropped a long-expected bomb by announcing he was defecting from the party to become a Republican.

        That took a little of the shine off the Democrats' day and gave the Republicans a chance — like they needed one — to jab the Dems a little.

        “One of the few Democratic officeholders has switched parties on the same day of the rousing Truman Club event,” gloated Kenton County GOP chairman Greg Shumate.

        “What's that say about their party?”

        Republicans are also delighting in how the Democrats appear to be taking a page out of the GOP's playbook.

        “They even ripped off the Truman Club idea from our Lincoln 100,” Mr. Shumate reported. “One of the Democrats called me when they were starting that thing and wanted our ideas, which of course I didn't give them.”

        The Democrats have a long way to go. But at least they appear to be on the way.

       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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