Friday, May 11, 2001

Draud: Timing not right for run

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CRESTVIEW HILLS — State Rep. Jon Draud is giving a politically uncommon reason for deciding not to run against U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas in next year's 4th District congressional race.

        “I don't think I can win,” Mr. Draud, a Crestview Hills Republican, said Thursday. “I've studied the race and looked at other races around the country in the past, and it's just too hard to beat an incumbent.”

        Mr. Draud becomes the second high-profile Northern Kentucky Republican in recent weeks who looked at the 2002 race, then decided to stay in the Kentucky Statehouse.

        Last month state Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas decided not to run, saying she didn't want to spend time in Washington away from her children.

        Mr. Draud said he still has important work to do in the Kentucky General Assembly, where he sits on the House Education Committee, secured more than $1 million in projects for his district last year and has sponsored legislation that improved educational standards.

        But Mr. Draud, 62, made clear that his biggest reason for not running came down to money. His research of other contested House races around the country in recent years indicates that incumbents win about 98 percent of House races and attract more than 90 percent of the money from political action committees.        

Atypical vote

        “How do you compete against that? I don't think you can, and that's really the main reason I'm not running,” Mr. Draud said. “That's not to say that someday I won't run for Congress, but the timing is not right. And I'm a big believer in timing.”

        Mr. Lucas, who is in his second term, signed a pledge limiting himself to three terms when he ran his first congressional race in 1998. Many Republicans think they can win back the seat should it open, as expected, in 2004.

        The 4th District, which stretches over 22 counties from Ashland to near Louisville and includes all of Northern Kentucky, typically votes Republican in federal elections.

        Republican George W. Bush carried the district in last year's presidential race. Before Mr. Lucas won the seat, Southgate Republican Jim Bunning, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, held the 4th District seat for six terms.

        But last year the Republicans failed to mount a credible challenge to Mr. Lucas, who received 55 percent of the vote in defeating Don Bell of Oldham County.        

Neophyte candidate

        With Mrs. Stine and Mr. Draud out, it appears that Boone County businessman Geoff Davis — who has never held or run for office and moved to the region only three years ago — will be the GOP's top candidate.

        Michael Wiley, a former radio talk show host from Florida now living in Florence, has indicated he also might run as a Republican.


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