Tuesday, March 27, 2001

GOP needs a match for Lucas

        It's time for the Republican Party to pull out the sabres and commence the rattling.

        We're at that point in the endless congressional campaign cycle — yes, the 2000 election was just four months ago and we're already talking about the 2002 campaign — when the Democrats gear up and the GOP starts gum-flapping.

        U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, the Boone County Democrat elected to a second term representing the 4th District, has raised dough, hired a campaign staff, opened a campaign office and is prepared to defend his seat.

        The Republicans are talking a good race, but so far they haven't produced much. It's kind of like the last election, when all they could muster was a weak challenge from Oldham County Republican Don Bell.

        Geoff Davis from Boone County is “exploring” getting into the race, said GOP consultant Marc Wilson of Florence.

        We don't know much

        about Mr. Davis. He had Mr. Wilson return a phone call I made to him. Apparently, he runs a successful manufacturing consulting firm in Hebron, graduated from West Point, served in the military, used to live in Oldham County and is prepared to dump some of his own cash — maybe as much as $100,000 — into the race.

        That's all great, but who is he? What does he stand for, and what has he done? We'll hear those things, supposedly, if Mr. Davis gets into the race.

        Others “thinking” about the race are two Republican state lawmakers — Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas and Rep. Jon Draud of Crestview Hills.

        Both would be formidable can didates, but thus far about all they've done is test the water like a parent about to bathe a baby.

        The time has come to jump in, Republicans. And don't look at the calendar. Look at what the Lucas camp is up to.

        Mr. Lucas has about $100,000 in the bank. A campaign office is operating on Commonwealth Avenue in Erlanger. Bob Doyle, one of D.C.'s top Democratic consultants, is back on board for Mr. Lucas' third campaign.

        A recent addition to the team is Christina Gilgor, a full-time fund-raiser. And helping shake down local donors are three of the biggest names in political/business/social circles — Fort Thomas' Wayne Carlisle and R.C. Durr and Dick Crist, both from Boone County. Mr. Lucas is also getting lots of mileage out of his “common-sense conservative” mantle, a phrase that drives Northern Kentucky Republican leaders goofy.

        Though he's a Democrat — the only one in Kentucky's eight member federal delegation — Mr. Lucas often crosses party lines.

        Just a couple of weeks ago he was one of the few House Democrats to vote for President Bush's tax-cut package.

        That should make registered Republicans happy; their elected representative in Congress is backing the Republican president.

        But it sends GOP leaders in a tizzy, because they can't hit Mr. Lucas with being a liberal Democrat when he makes moves like that.

        There's more. Roll Call, a Cap itol Hill political paper, reported that the Republicans recently made a move to recruit Mr. Lucas into the party fold. He refused but may have appreciated the overture.

        And then Thursday a White House staffer dropped by Mr. Lucas' D.C. office to deliver some official presidential cuff links, courtesy of the president.

        It's always hard to whip a congressional incumbent. But by sitting on their hands, among other things, the Republicans are making it tougher.

        E-mail pcrowley9@home.com.

'Blue Dog' Lucas won't roll over

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