Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Picnic attracts a crowd of pols

Democrats to flock to Guiduglis'

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLD SPRING — A front yard — though a large front yard — in this Campbell County city will be the epicenter of Kentucky Democratic politics Saturday night.

        That's when the Guiduglis will hold their annual family picnic, an event that has expanded over eight years from a quiet gathering to what is probably the year's top political event in Northern Kentucky.

        “I don't know of anything that is bigger in terms of attracting politicians,” said Kentucky House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan, a Wilder Democrat and a regular attendee.

        Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton, who has been attending as long as the picnic has been held, will attend, as will a host of other Democrats running or considering running for governor in 2003:

        • Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.

        • Attorney General Ben Chandler.

        • House Speaker Jody Richards.

        • Former Gov. Brereton Jones.

        • Crit Luallen, Mr. Patton's cabinet secretary.

        • Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, who has been invited but has not confirmed that he is coming.

        Most local elected officials and potential candidates, as well as Democratic Party officials and activists and organized labor leaders, typically attend.

        Many pols are beginning to describe the picnic as sort of a mini Fancy Farm, the annual Western Kentucky church picnic and political event that attracts up to 20,000 people every August.

        “It's a recognized political event in Northern Kentucky,” Mr. Richards said while in Erlanger Monday night. “If you're running for office, you want to be there.”

        Dave Guidugli, a former Cold Spring councilman active in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, hosts the picnic in the expansive yard of his Darlas Drive home.

        “We started this as family and a few friends, but we're all pretty active in things and we know a lot of people,” Mr. Guidugli said. “It just kind of kept growing. I think with good weather we could have our biggest one yet, maybe 500 people.”

        Several members of his family are active in politics, including his twin brother, Dan, a Kentucky Court of Appeals justice, and sister Mariann Guidugli Dunn, the Campbell County property value administrator.

        Then there are cousins Tom Guidugli, the mayor of Newport, and Steve Guidugli, a Bellevue city councilman.

        Mrs. Dunn said the atmosphere is what attracts people.

        “It's very laid back,” she said. “There aren't a lot of speeches or anything like that. It's just a chance to get to see people and meet people in a real relaxed setting.”

        On this year's menu are eight large trays of pasta, 20 pounds of salad, dozens of homemade desserts and about 20 cases of beer.

        The picnic is by invitation only, but most guests bring somebody along.

        “We even have a few Republicans,” laughed Dave Guidugli, a member of the Campbell County Democratic Executive Committee.


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