Thursday, April 26, 2001

Aftermath helped each candidate

Deters, Edmondson scored in PR

        Am I out of the pop culture loop or what? Though I've never seen it, I was convinced that with a name like Jackass, the program was one of those talking-heads shows featuring politicians and journalists.

        Who knew?

        Will the real Jackass please stand? It's taken awhile but Eric Deters has been bested in the public relations game he is so adept at playing.

        Mr. Deters is the Independence lawyer challenging Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson in the GOP primary that won't be held for another 13 months.

        Since he announced his candidacy more than a year ago, Mr. Deters and his campaign manager, Hayes Robertson, have been successful at getting Mr. Deters' name in the paper.

        The ink flowed when Mr. Deters had fund-raisers featuring baseball legend Pete Rose and Ohio state Treasurer Joe Deters, a popular Hamilton County Republican; when he hired big-name political consultants; when he opened a campaign office; and when he went on the offense against Mr. Edmondson.

        So it wasn't actually a surprise when Mr. Deters emerged as spokesman for the family of a teen-ager who witnessed a bizarre videotaped stunt in Independence.

        A 16-year-old was struck head-on by a car he was apparently trying to jump over. His buddies videotaped the whole goofy thing and the boy is in the hospital with broken bones. Mr. Deters was brought in to handle the media requests for interviews with the teen-age witness.

        Critics say the whole episode was inspired by an MTV show called Jackass, where a bunch of jackasses participate in maneuvers such as setting themselves on fire and kicking one another in the crotch.

        Back at the county attorney's race, Mr. Deters (we think) is fuming over being upstaged by Mr. Edmondson.

        Mr. Edmondson was only doing his job in holding a press conference Tuesday to announce that two of the teens involved in the stunt would be charged with felonies and that he would investigate to see if the show could in any way be held responsible.

        Naturally, Mr. Edmondson was all over the local TV stations and newspapers covering the story. But the real coup was Wednesday morning when he appeared on The Today Show and was interviewed by morning show diva Katie Couric.

        But give Mr. Deters time. He's been contacted by several network news shows, including Dateline, about appearing to talk about the incident.

        Poll this. It's a little early but somebody — we're not quite sure exactly who yet — paid for a recent poll on the potential 2004 U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Jim Bunning of Southgate and Gov. Paul Patton, a Pikeville Democrat.

        Portions of the poll ended up on our office fax machine. An “if the election were held today” type question shows Mr. Bunning with a 10-point lead, 50 percent to 40 percent, with 10 percent of the voters undecided.

        The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percent, but the dates when the poll was conducted were not included. It does indicate that 402 people were interviewed, including 262 Democrats, which hints that maybe a Democrat had the poll conducted.

        Neither Mr. Patton nor the state Democratic Party paid for the poll, said the Dems in Frankfort. Ditto the Republicans. And it's not clear what firm actually conducted the poll. The only heading on the poll is the notation “TPG”.

        The parties each had their own spin on the results.

        “I think it's fascinating that a sitting governor would put me in one of his polls three years out from the election, Mr. Bunning said. “But I'm glad to hear I have a nice lead among Democrats.

        “It's obvious they expected a hell of a lot better numbers or they would have released it,” he said.

        Susan Dixon, a Kentucky Democratic Party spokeswoman, said Mr. Bunning should be “disappointed” with the results.

        “If I was a sitting senator these numbers would scare the daylights out of me,” Ms. Dixon said. “An incumbent who can't get above 50 percent should be very concerned about job approval.”

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for the Enquirer. He can be reached at (859) 578-5581, or at



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