Friday, November 1, 2002

Late strategy: Get attention

Eye-catching key for candidates

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

Election season has reached the 11th hour. Candidates everywhere are making one last push to garner as many votes as possible on Tuesday.

Some will take the traditional route by walking door-to-door, mailing out fliers and running television and radio ads. Others will try to find something unique to stay fresh in voters' minds.

Campbell County sheriff candidate Steve Taylor will do so with lights and sound.

Mr. Taylor has been campaigning by using a trailer with a 4-by-8-foot election sign with flashing lights and music. He will continue using the trailer until his run against incumbent John Dunn is complete.

"I put all the kids in the back and turn it on," he said. "It has 500 watts of lights and music blaring. Does it make people vote for me? Who knows? It's just one of those attention-getters."

Michael Moore also is looking for out-of-the-ordinary ploys for votes. Mr. Moore is trying to unseat state Rep. Paul Marcotte in the 60th District. So far, he has put up a sign with a Michael Jordan-like image reading "Michael's back," created a lighted hillside with Christmas lights bearing his name and now is using banana boxes to get attention.

Mr. Moore recently painted several banana boxes red and hung them from trees with the message, "Think outside the box." The boxes appear near his home on U.S. 42 in Union.

"It kind of jumps out to get your attention," he said. "Something happens when you get older that you lose some of the creativity you had as a kid. I think it's good to find that creativity and use it."

Newport Commission candidate Robbie Hall is also trying to catch voters' eyes. He has 12 lighted election signs throughout the city. As he campaigns door-to-door, he says the signs are having an effect.

"I've heard a lot about them," said Mr. Hall. "They really get people's attention."

In Fort Wright, council candidate Clarence Lassetter has made his name and face familiar to voters by standing by the road with a sign reading "Vote for Clarence." Drivers can frequently see him on Kyles Lane during rush hour.

In Highland Heights, someone apparently is taking a different approach to stopping their opponents. Police have received complaints that someone is stealing signs advocating voting against Margaret Stamper, Betty Williams and Craig Farrish.

Police Chief Carl Mullen said he has spoken to a suspect and believes the problem is resolved.

And it never seems to be too late for critiquing opponents' campaigns either. Bill Verst sent out a mailing this week with the message "Thou shalt not lie." The message was in reference to his County Commission opponent Lloyd Rogers, whose campaign has made claims about stopping vehicle emissions testing. That decision is not made at the county level.

According to Terry Mann, head of the Campbell County Democratic Party, for the most part this year's campaign efforts have not been too outlandish.

"It's all pretty traditional stuff," he said. "There really hasn't been anything too abnormal or out-of-the-ordinary this year."

Even in high-profile races, candidates are campaigning to the bitter end.

Both Ken Lucas and Geoff Davis will make their cases for 4th District congressman until the last second. Mr. Lucas is in the midst of a nine-day, 24-county tour through the region in what his camp calls the ice cream truck.

"We're having a lot of fun doing it, and we're doing a lot of traveling," said Lucas campaign chairman Ben Davis. "It's kind of a festive atmosphere."

Mr. Davis is relying on powerful allies - touring with Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning at the end of the campaign. His camp will flood the area with volunteers in one last effort.

"We'll have literally hundreds of volunteers on the streets campaigning door-to-door and phoning people to make sure they vote," said spokesman Marc Wilson.

Once Election Day is over, the candidates will know if their work was worth the effort. Until then, there is no rest for the weary.

"It's crunch time, and I'm just scared to death to sit back and think I've done enough," said Mr. Taylor.

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