Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Democrat to run against McConnell

Weinberg is daughter of Gov. Combs

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Emphasizing education, families and civility, and contrasting her views on campaign finance, Lois Combs Weinberg said she will run against incumbent Mitch McConnell next year for the U.S. Senate.

        Mrs. Weinberg, 57, is the daughter of former Gov. Bert T. Combs. Although she has never run for office before, Mrs. Weinberg has been around politics her entire life.

        She is married to Bill Weinberg, a former state representative and commonwealth attorney in their home of Knott County. She has also been active in education, serving on the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and on the University of Kentucky board of trustees. She now serves on the Council on Postsecondary Education. Bill Weinberg serves on the state Board of Education.

        Mr. McConnell, in a statement released by the Republican Party, did not really have much to say about Mrs. Weinberg, other than calling the Democrat a “formida ble candidate.”

        Instead, Mr. McConnell blistered Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, whom he called his more likely opponent.

        Mr. Owen was Democrat Al Gore's Kentucky presidential campaign chairman.

        “Charlie enthusiastically traveled the state as Al Gore's Kentucky chairman, promoting Mr. Gore's war against tobacco farmers, coal miners, autoworkers and law-abiding gun owners,” Mr. McConnell said.

        Mr. Owen, who lost a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and a 3rd District race for Congress in 1994, is pondering a run in 2002 or race for governor in 2003. Mr. Owen could not be reached for comment Monday.

        Mrs. Weinberg said one of the reasons she is starting a formal campaign so early is to try to head off a primary. Scotty Baesler's hotly contested primary in 1998 against Mr. Owen and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry is partly blamed by his campaign for his loss in the general election to Jim Bunning.

        Mr. McConnell is a prodigious fund-raiser, already with more than $1 million on hand for 2002.

        Mrs. Weinberg called the current campaign finance system “legalized bribery.”

        “No one has been more outspoken about protecting the status quo than Mr. McConnell. He is the veritable poster boy of the privileged and the powerful,” Mrs. Weinberg said.

        She acknowledged her own need for campaign money and said she would raise “enough to be competitive.”


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