Saturday, April 06, 2002

Jackson aims for governor

Judge-executive awaits Rogers, rules out lieutenant position

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT, Ky. — Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson says she has ruled out taking a second spot on someone else's ticket and will make her own campaign for governor in 2003.

        When Ms. Jackson formed an exploratory committee for governor in late February, she hedged on whether she might consider a spot as lieutenant governor on someone else's slate.

        Ms. Jackson said in a telephone interview on Friday that she was only waiting for word from U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers about whether he would run for governor. Mr. Rogers said in mid-March he intends to stay in Washington.

        “Now I'm willing to say I will not run for lieutenant governor. I am going to run for governor and I'm in it to win it and I'm going to stay,” Ms. Jackson said.

        Ms. Jackson said she already has a field narrowed to three potential running mates of her own, whom she declined to identify, except to say two were from western Kentucky and one from eastern Kentucky.

        “There is a front-runner, but I will not tell you who,” Ms. Jackson said.

        One of the prospects is state Rep. Brian Crall of Owensboro, who has made little secret of his interest in a second spot on a gubernatorial ticket.

        A Republican primary in 2003 is virtually assured. State Rep. Steve Nunn of Glasgow has also formed his exploratory committee. Sixth District U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher is pondering a race. State Sen. Virgil Moore of Leitchfield has an exploratory committee.

        “I think primaries are very healthy,” Ms. Jackson said. “They get issues and discussions on the table early. They add to the clarification of who the candidates are. I do not shy away from a primary.”

        One of those primary issues could be public financing. Senate Republicans are holding out for elimination of the partial public financing system in budget negotiations, but a compromise they have put forward would leave it intact for the May 2003 primary.

        Mr. Nunn has said public financing allows someone without great wealth to seek the governorship.

        Ms. Jackson said she does not like public financing, but would participate. To go outside the system would allow opponents additional public financing to match privately raised contributions, Ms. Jackson said.

        Mr. Fletcher, who said he opposes public financing as a policy matter, declined to say earlier this week whether he would participate.

        The last seriously contested Republican primary was in 1991, when then-U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins defeated Larry Forgy.

        GOP Chairwoman Ellen Williams said the party central office will remain neutral in a primary, but that may not be the final word. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the godfather of the GOP in Kentucky, is believed to favor Mr. Fletcher.

        Three Democratic slates are virtually certain and more are possible. Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, Attorney General Ben Chandler and House Speaker Jody Richards are the likely candidates. Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, who has long had an electoral itch, may try to scratch it again.


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