Friday, September 06, 2002

Henry-Guilfoyle ticket floated

N.Ky. lawyer on governor candidate's short list

By Patrick Crowley,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — One of the Democrats running for governor may ask an Edgewood resident to be his running mate.

        Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry said Thursday he is considering asking Kenton County Democratic Party strategist Mark Guilfoyle, a lawyer with experience in high levels of state government, to join his gubernatorial ticket next year.

        After helping to tap the first keg of beer at the MainStrasse Oktoberfest luncheon in Covington, Mr. Henry confirmed that he has talked to Mr. Guilfoyle as his lieutenant governor running mate in the 2003 election.

        Mr. Henry said much of the economic development success in Northern Kentucky — including projects such as Newport on the Levee and the Kentucky Speedway and the attraction of corporate headquarters operated by Toyota, Ashland and others — has come under Democratic administrations in Frankfort.

        Throughout the two terms of Gov. Paul Patton and Mr. Henry, Mr. Guilfoyle has served as a periodic adviser on a number of economic development, legal and political issues.

        “It's only natural we would be looking up here for someone to serve in our administration,” he said.

        “Mark Guilfoyle has experience here and in Frankfort. He certainly is a leader in Northern Kentucky. He's a valued adviser ... and it's time to start considering governors and lieutenant governors from this area.”

        Mr. Henry, one of several Democrats seeking the party's nomination in next year's gubernatorial primary, did not say whether he was considering other possible running mates.

        It is not surprising that Mr. Henry would want to put a Northern Kentucky Democrat on the ticket given how hard he has worked to build his support in the region.

        Mr. Henry, his wife, former Miss America Heather French Henry and their daughter, Harper, have been frequent visitors to Northern Kentucky. His appearance at Thursday's luncheon was his fourth visit to the area in two weeks.

        The usually talkative and often excitable Mr. Guilfoyle was uncharacteristically low-key about Mr. Henry's campaign overture, refusing to say if he is even considering joining the ticket.

        He did confirm he has talked to Mr. Henry about the campaign but would say little else when contacted Thursday.

        Mr. Guilfoyle did say he was flattered but is concentrating on the reelection campaign of U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Boone County Democrat, and Kenton County Judge-executive candidate Patrick Hughes, a Fort Wright Democrat and attorney in the same law firm as Mr. Guilfoyle.

        “I have a great deal of respect for Steve and Heather,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “They are true-blue Kentucky. But right now all I'm concentrating on politically are the campaigns of Ken Lucas and Patrick Hughes.”

        Mr. Guilfoyle, 42, lives in Edgewood with his wife Casey, and their five children.

        He is a partner at the Crestview Hills law firm of Deters, Benzinger and LaVelle and also operates a legislative lobbying practice with former Republican state Rep. Tom Jensen of London, Ky.

        Though he has never run for office, Mr. Guilfoyle is viewed both locally and statewide as the top Democratic political strategist in Northern Kentucky.

        He came to prominence in the administration of former Gov. Brereton Jones, who served from 1987 to 1991. Mr. Guilfoyle held three positions simultaneously — budget director, legal counsel and secretary of the cabinet.

        Mr. Guilfoyle's candidacy would be a boost to Northern Kentucky, said Covington City Commissioner Alex Edmondson, a Democrat.

        “Just for Mr. Henry to consider having a Northern Kentuckian on the ticket is fantastic for this region as a whole,” said Mr. Edmondson, who was also at the Oktoberfest lunch. “It gives added credence to the fact that Northern Kentucky is going to play a major role in the next governor's race.”

        Highland Heights Republican Roger Thoney is already on a ticket as a lieutenant governor. Mr. Thoney, who has twice run

        for Northern Kentucky's U.S. House seat, is running with Republican gubernatorial candidate Sonny Landham of Ashland.

        Other Republicans considering running for governor include Congressman Ernie Fletcher of Lexington, state Rep. Steve Nunn and Jefferson County Judge-executive Rebecca Jackson. Likely Democratic candidates include Attorney General Ben Chandler, House Speaker Jody Richards and Louisville businessman Charlie Owen.

        Northern Kentuckians who have been mentioned as possible running mates include Democrats Bill Robinson, an Erlanger lawyer, Kentucky Court of Appeals Justice Dan Guidugli of Alexandria and Republicans Gary Moore, the Boone County judge-executive, state Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas and Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery, also of Fort Thomas.

        Northern Kentucky boasts few governors or lieutenant governors in Kentucky history.


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