Thursday, August 05, 1999

Martin counting on N.Ky.

Boone Co. Fair campaign site

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Republican gubernatorial candidate Peppy Martin picked the right place — the midway at the Boone County Fair — to bring her campaign Wednesday night.

        Considered a long shot even by some members of her own party at knocking off Democratic incumbent Gov. Paul Patton in November, Ms. Martin said she was hoping to pick up support in what has recently become the largest Republican controlled county in the state.

        “I'll do well here in Boone County because this is a good Republican county,” Ms. Martin said as she handed out campaign fliers to fairgoers and introduced herself as “the gal running for governor.”

        “I'm getting a good response, and I'm picking up some campaign workers. People are volunteering to help, and that's what I need.”

        Ms. Martin does not have nearly the financial backing or statewide organization of Mr. Patton. And she has espoused a platform that has been long on ideas and rhetoric but short on specifics and reality.

        For instance, she has talked about cutting taxes by as much as 75 percent without saying exactly how the state could afford losing that much reve nue and continue to pay for many services.

        But she has been spending more time on the campaign trail and has met recently with GOP leaders from across Northern Kentucky. Mr. Patton failed to carry any of the region's three counties when he was elected in 1995.

        “She'll carry Boone County,” predicted O'Dell Berry, a longtime Republican Party activist and organizer in Boone County. “She is conservative, and this county wants a conservative for governor.”

        Mr. Martin admits she hopes to win votes from Democrats opposed to some of Mr. Patton's programs and proposals, including an increase in the state gas tax and the prospect of bringing casino gambling to Kentucky.

        “People don't want higher taxes, and a gas tax is not only a higher tax but it's a higher tax on working people and commuters,” she said.

        Mr. Patton has said the Kentucky General Assembly should consider an increase of about a dime a gallon in the gas tax to provide money for building, repairing and maintaining state roads.

        Mr. Patton has also said the legislature and Kentucky voters should consider legalizing casino gambling to provide the state with a new revenue stream and to keep some of the money that Kentucky residents are losing in states where gambling is legal.

        “People in Kentucky don't want gambling, and I don't want gambling,” she said. “We don't even need to discuss or study it.”

        Ms. Martin's political skills, stump speaking and platform will be under intense scrutiny this weekend when she and Mr. Patton both appear at the annual Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County.

        Mr. Patton is a veteran of the western Kentucky event, which can be rowdy and wild. Partisans in the crowd try to shout down, intimidate and ridicule the speakers.

        Ms. Martin has never been to the event, let alone spoken on the Fancy Farm stage. And though the speeches and picnic are covered by the statewide political press, she was trying Wednesday to downplay its significance.

        “It's just a part of the campaign,” she said. “I don't view it as a make or break one way or another.”

        Ms. Martin campaigned at the county fair for about 90 minutes. She stood in front of the Boone County GOP's booth along with two other Republicans running for office next year, congressional candidate Don Bell of Oldham County and commonwealth attorney candidate Howe Baker of Verona in Boone County.

        Independence resident Richard Skinner Sr., a Republican, looked over Ms. Martin's campaign literature and said he'll probably vote for her.

        “If she's a Republican, I'll support her,” said Mr. Skinner, 64. “But I want gambling, and she doesn't. So I guess we have some differences.”


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