Sunday, June 09, 2002

Ky. Politics

Political rivals clash over coffee

        Talk about an eye-opener.

        Strolling into the Fort Thomas Starbucks two days after the May 28 primary was like stumbling into a hornets' nest.

        Or make that a hornets' nest and a wasps' nest.

        On one side of the room were two Democrats, incumbent Campbell County commissioners Dave Otto and Bill Verst. They were soon joined by fellow Democrat Terry Mann, a former state lawmaker and one of the best political strategists around.

        On another side of the room were the Republicans, huddled over steaming cups of coffee and plotting strategy to knock off a well-known incumbent sitting just across the way .

        Mr. Otto was in a particularly good mood. He didn't have an opponent in the primary and is unopposed in the fall. He was throwing back a fancy coffee drink — big cup, whipped cream — and predicting big victories for the Dems this fall.

        His partymate Mr. Verst was more reserved. He had no primary opposition but faces a challenge in the fall from the guy sitting across the room — Republican Lloyd Rogers, the former county judge-executive.

        Mr. Rogers, who last held office in the early 1980s, has tried to make a few political comebacks over the years.

        But he was given some new life in the primary, squeaking out a 19-vote victory over Republican Mark Stoeber, who was making his first run for county office.

        The win, however, marks not just the Mr. Rogers' return but also that of two other Republicans — former county GOP head Norb Gettys and former district judge Tim Nolan.

        It was a surprise to see Mr. Gettys and Mr. Nolan skulling with Mr. Rogers. Both have been out of the political arena for the last few years — Mr. Gettys exiting after stepping down as head of the party in the mid-'90s and Mr. Nolan taking a leave after losing the 1998 county judge-executive primary.

        Mr. Nolan's judge-exec campaign was, by the way, managed by Mr. Rogers.

        Mr. Rogers plans to use his campaign to build support for doing away with tailpipe testing and for convincing the federal government to spend $10 million or more to build an Ohio River flood wall in Silver Grove.

        Mr. Rogers' campaign signs feature an ax, a throwback to his first judge-executive campaign, when he rode an “Ax the Tax” platform of doing away with a zoning tax to victory.

        But Mr. Otto already gave a hint of how the Democrats and Mr. Verst will respond. Speaking loud enough for the Republicans to hear, Mr. Otto said, “He's lying to people if he tells them he can get those things done.”

        Mr. Rogers claimed he can get those things done and talked about how he helped lead the effort to kill the region's first round of tailpipe testing back in the early '80s.

        Mr. Verst showed class when he came over to shake the Republicans' hands. But it still looks like this race could get interesting.
        Patrick Crowley can be reached at (859) 578-5581, or e-mail


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