Sunday, November 10, 2002

Patton sentiment takes dive on home turf

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Gov. Paul Patton's approval rating has dropped 15 points in Jefferson County since a western Kentucky nursing home owner accused him of sexual harassment, according to the Courier-Journal's Bluegrass Poll.

At the same time, the percentage of people who said they strongly disapproved of Mr. Patton's job performance rose from 8 percent in early September to 27 percent in late October, the paper said. The poll found that opinions about Mr. Patton's job performance are evenly divided, with 47 percent of adults saying they approve, 46 percent saying they disapprove and 7 percent with no opinion. The poll, conducted Oct. 25-30, surveyed 902 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

In the poll in early September, 62 percent of Jefferson County adults said they approved of Patton's job performance and 24 percent said they disapproved. The margin of error for that sample of 153 people, part of a statewide survey, was plus or minus 7.9 percentage points.

Mr. Patton's job approval ratings in the county have closely followed his statewide standings. Some of Mr. Patton's fellow Democrats have said the impact of the scandal has been stronger in rural areas, but there have been no statewide public polls on Mr. Patton since the scandal broke.

After Mr. Patton initially denied he had had sex with Tina Conner, he admitted on Sept. 20 that he had.

Ms. Conner alleged in a sexual harassment lawsuit that Mr. Patton used his office to help her during their affair and to damage her nursing home business after it ended. Mr. Patton has denied the charges.

Asked to respond to the poll, Mr. Patton issued this statement: "I committed a serious personal indiscretion and I understand why some would be disappointed in that failing. I'm hopeful that when all of the facts of the case come out, coupled with my determination to do what is right for the future of Kentucky during my final year, the citizens' faith and confidence in me will be somewhat restored."

Mr. Patton, who cannot seek re-election next year, was planning to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004 but now says he will not.

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