Sunday, November 17, 2002

GOP has come a long way,
but Dems not going away



map
Looking back on Election Day and looking forward to the 2003 campaign.

Kenton GOP rules

Boone County is known across the state as the 800-pound gorilla of Northern Kentucky Republican politics. Not only is it the largest GOP-controlled county in the state, but Democrats win there about as often as the Bengals.

The only Boone Dem to land a seat on Nov. 7 was Clerk Marilyn Rouse. Otherwise it was the typical clean sweep for the Boone GOP.

But emerging as a Republican power is Kenton County. Not only is the GOP gaining ground on Democrats when it comes to registered voters - 43,593 Democrats to 38,880 Republicans - but Kenton County Republicans ran the table on Nov. 7.

As he slathered butter on his pancakes last week during a leisurely breakfast at the Covington Frisch's, Kenton GOP chairman Greg Shumate - who has led the party since 1997 - admitted he was finally able to relax after a long and bitter year of touting Republicans and battling Democrats.

"We've come a long way," said Mr. Shumate, who sprinkles his political speak with stories of his sons' athletic endeavors. "Four years ago, we had one office in the courthouse, a seat on the fiscal court. We ran eight candidates that year and won all eight seats. This year, we had 13 candidates on the ballot going for major seats - and we won every one."

Over the last few years, the Kenton GOP has opened and operated a headquarters, raised thousands of dollars for its candidates, sent out mailers and conducted polls, and - most important - opened up the party to a group of young activists now preparing for campaigns in the future and their turn on the ballot.

For Mr. Shumate, the success of the 2002 campaign is almost as good as his son, Adam, leading his team at Turner's gym in Covington in rebounding or belting an extra base hit in Knothole. Not quite, but almost.

Fightin' words

When Republican Geoff Davis got in the 4th Congressional District race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Ken Lucas, he pledged to run a clean campaign on the issues.

Democrats, and even some high-profile Republicans, say Mr. Davis broke that campaign promise.

Mr. Lucas took some heat for not accepting an Election Night concession phone call from Mr. Davis. And maybe he should have taken the call.

But Lucas supporters have been miffed at Mr. Davis for months. The candidate and his campaign took plenty of shots at Mr. Lucas for being too old (he's 69), for "dressing like a banker" (he's a Congressman), for supposedly fudging his resume, for not supporting President Bush's tax cut (in fact, he did), and a whole lot of other stuff that was distorted or flat untrue.

Frozen waffles were thrown in Mr. Lucas' yard - OK, that's kind of funny - after the Republicans accused him of being a waffler. .

It can be argued that the Lucas folks played rough in the previous election, when they beat Republican Gex Williams. And Mr. Lucas and his campaign took their fair share of jabs at Mr. Davis during the long campaign.

But Mr. Davis set the bar with his comments about no personal attacks - then slid under it.

Dem dream team

There is a lot of political intrigue taking place over just whom the many gubernatorial candidates will tap for their lieutenant governor running mates. We've already seen Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, state Rep. Jon Draud and Democratic strategist Mark Guilfoyle mentioned as potential candidates. There is also word that House Speaker Jody Richards, the Democrat from Bowling Green, has been talking to Erlanger lawyer Bill Robinson.

But one of the more intriguing match-ups has Attorney General Ben Chandler, largely perceived as the front-runner among Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, running with state Treasurer Jonathan Miller, a campaigning and fund-raising machine sitting on a $300,000 reelection fund.

Stay tuned. Most slates will be firmed up by Christmas.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com



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