Monday, December 17, 2001

Deters says he's a true Republican

        Eric Deters is a Republican. He was an Independent, then a Republican, then a Democrat. But now he's all GOP, all the time. He's so Republican he has a trunk and tusks. If you don't believe him, all you have to do is ask.

        Mr. Deters, the Republican challenging Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson in May's primary, pulls out a letter he has received from George W. Bush. OK, it's a form letter. But it's still from the president. Kinda.

        “Bet Garry Edmondson doesn't have one of these,” Mr. Deters said, his loud voice booming as he shakes the letter over his head.

        He goes on to make his case, that he is more Republican than Mr. Edmondson, who was a Democrat until about a year ago.

        Over the years, Mr. Deters has given lots of dough to lots of GOP candidates, from Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd to state Rep. Jon Draud to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning.

        He worked in the campaigns, managing some, of more than a few Republican candidates, including former Kenton County Judge-executive Clyde Middleton, guber- natorial candidate Jim Bunning and state Sen. Dick Roeding.

        He even chaired the Kenton County Republican Party from 1988 to 1992.

        But he also torched more than a few bridges over the years, which is likely one of the reasons Mr. Deters feels it's important to point out the bones he has made in the GOP.

        And Mr. Edmondson is happy to provide explicit details of those bridge burnings.

        Such as when Mr. Deters switched parties and proclaimed he was a “Democrat for life” in 1992. Or when he supported Democrat Floyd Poore — who was the Deters' family doctor — over Mr. Bunning in the 1992 congressional race. Or when the GOP tried to oust him as chairman in 1991.

        Mr. Deters says he can explain.

        “I was an angry young man, lashing out,” he said last week. “But that was a long time ago. And if voters want a Republican in office, a true Republican, not one that changed parties when he saw the political winds shifting, they better vote for me.”

        Mr. Edmondson says Mr. Deters still doesn't have the support of the party's leaders, who are for the most part staying neutral in the primary.

        “When he was a Republican he wasn't all that welcome. They were glad to see him go,” Mr. Edmondson said. “And I'm being welcomed in the party.”

        Mr. Deters is quick to point out that Mr. Edmondson spread some dough around when he was a Dem, with contributions to state Sen. Joe Meyer, judge-exec candidate Denny Bowman and state Rep. Mike Hammons.

        “Gary has never been in the trenches,” Mr. Deters said. “I have bled for the Republican Party and its candidates for over 10 years.”

        Mr. Edmondson defends his Republican leanings by touting endorsements from such groups as Northern Kentucky Right to Life, the politically active anti-abortion group, and saying how Republicans have embraced his candidacy.

        He claimed that at an Election Night rally put on by the Kenton County Republican Party last month, Mr. Deters took off after seeing so many people wearing “Edmondson's Army” stickers.

        “He bugged out,” Mr. Edmondson said. “He couldn't take it.”

        “Totally untrue,” countered Mr. Deters. “Maybe 10 percent of the people had those goofy things on. And my wife and I left early to get home to our kids.”

        Mr. Edmondson said 75 percent of the people at the rally were wearing his “Edmondson's Army” stickers. Let's hope these two are better at law than they are at math.
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