Sunday, September 02, 2001

If voters are there, so is Henry

        Steve Henry is everywhere. That's what you do when you want to be governor. You work it. And he's working it.

        Take the last couple of weeks.

        There was Mr. Henry, pressing flesh and flashing his grin at the Campbell County Senior Citizens Picnic in Melbourne.

        There he was at the Guidugli family picnic in Cold Spring, downing pasta and working the crowd with his wife, former Miss America Heather French, and the couple's 2-month old baby, Harper.

        People love babies, and that kid is going to get more political exposure in the next few years than most of the lawmakers in the General Assembly.

        There was new papa Henry waving to the crowd at the Alexandria Fair Parade, handing out automobile booster seats in Louisville and giving out free gun-locking devices in LaGrange and Taylorsville.

        Get ready for more appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Henry.

        He'll be in Covington Thursday, shoveling the schnitzel at the openingof the MainStrasse Village Association's Oktoberfest in Covington.

        She'll be in Florence Sept. 29 to help Florence Mall celebrate its 25th anniversary by — and I'm not kidding — cutting the ribbon, or maybe the toilet paper, for the unveiling of the mall's new family restrooms.

        According to the mall's schedule of events, Mrs. Henry will follow mall mascot “Woolly Dude.” "

        So what's the point of all this bathroom frivolity and persistent public glad-handing?

        Mr. Henry thinks he can carry Northern Kentucky in the 2003 Democratic primary.

        So do others in the race, including House Speaker Jody Richards, Attorney General Ben Chandler and former Gov. Brereton Jones.

        But, of course, none of them has a new baby or a Miss America for a wife, items that mean nothing when it comes to governing but everything when it comes to politicking.

        Despite its GOP leanings in general elections, Northern Kentucky still has more Democrats than Republicans.

        So here's the Henry strategy:

        • Win Jefferson County, where he served as a county commissioner before being elected to lieutenant governor in 1995 (and where he won a second term in 1999).

        • Pick up some votes in and around Owensboro, where he grew up.

        • Win Northern Kentucky.

        That could be enough to seal what looks to be a very crowded Democratic primary, where it won't take a majority.

        Mr. Henry does have what pols like to refer to as “negatives” — investigations into whether state employees were used to plan his 2000 wedding and if he bilked the federal government out of money while working as an orthopedic surgeon in Louisville.

        (He denies the charges.)

        Those kind of things don't look good in an opponent's campaign commercial.

        But Mr. Henry is confident, if not ebullient.

        He's working harder than other Dems expected he would, and Mrs. Henry — who has shown a natural flair for politics — doesn't mind doing things for him like cutting ribbons at the opening of mall bathrooms.

        He may not win. But man, is he trying.

        E-mail at Past columns at


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