Sunday, October 31, 1999

Governor race should scare you into voting




BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's absolutely fitting that on Halloween we are talking about Kentucky's gubernatorial race, which has been one weird, creepy deal from the start.

        Voters have never seen a race quite like this one, and they probably don't ever want to see one again. They must be spooked by the prospect of actually casting a vote in what has never really been much of a race. The electorate is expected to stay away from the polls in record numbers on Tuesday.

election
Complete guide
        Talk about whistling past the political graveyard.

        Here's a quick look at the most recent developments:

        • Just when you thought the campaign of Republican Peppy Martin couldn't get any more bizarre, she used last week's statewide televised debate to roll out this gem: 80 percent of the county sheriffs and 30 percent of the state cops are dealing dope.

        Priceless. Way to go after that law enforcement vote, Peppy.

        Oh, wait. She didn't really mean it. She said as much last Tuesday during her appearance on the local cable access show Northern Kentucky Live.

        “That was just a wakeup call,” Peppy said. “I have really no idea what the figures are. I hope they're a lot less.

        “But I will tell that it is a great concern in every county in this state, and (Gov.) Paul Patton runs the state government, and he is the one to answer for it.

        “What don't you call Paul Patton (on) why he hasn't done more to watch over the drug dealing in this state,” she said.

        So, she admits to using unreliable and unconfirmed information to damage the reputations of hundreds of law enforcement officials.

        Peppy has begged and pleaded to be taken seriously as a candidate. The media have tried, but episodes like this make it impossible to imagine her running the state.

        Gov. Peppy Martin. Now that's scary.

        • Reform Party candidate Gatewood Galbraith has grown up from his last gubernatorial campaign four years ago. He has a much better platform, has campaigned harder and is even riding around in a bus.

        “In my last campaign I slept in the back of my car,” Mr. Galbraith said last week. “Now I'm traveling in style. This bus is nice, man.”

        Alas, Mr. Galbraith's campaign is suffering from a marijuana hang over. Despite his efforts to roll out a credible campaign, his platform in the 1991 and 1995 Democratic primaries to legalize marijuana will always stick with him. And the voters of this state just aren't going to buy making pot legal.

        The Democrats use the pot platform to occasionally jab Mr. Galbraith, as earlier this week when he said Mr. Patton was going to lose.

        “I think Gatewood is once again lost in that purple haze of his to say something so ludicrous,” said Kim Geveden, Mr. Patton's campaign manager.

        • Even the front-runner, Democratic incumbent Mr. Patton, has run scared this campaign season — but not because he is really afraid of losing.

        Mr. Patton is frightened that a low turnout will hurt his power and ability to push legislation through the General Assembly, especially since the GOP now controls the state Senate.

        So just to get some buzz going, Mr. Patton spent the early part of the campaign talking about legalizing casino gambling in Kentucky and raising the gas tax, two positions he has backed away from as Election Day draws near.

        And how about the news that came out last week about Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and Miss America Heather Renee French of Maysville dating and campaigning together?

        Did that just happen to “leak” out to give the Patton/Henry ticket more publicity? Stranger, scarier things have happened, especially in this year's race.

Class act
        Fort Thomas Democrat Connie Beiting was disappointed earlier this year when Mr. Patton didn't appoint her Campbell County property value administrator. The governor appointed Marian Guidugli Dunn, a Democrat running in Tuesday's election against Republican Kevin Gordon.

        Mrs. Beiting, who worked in the PVA's office for a few years, could have done what a lot of people in politics do when they don't win or get something they want. But she didn't pout, act bitter or become vindictive.

        In fact, Mrs. Beiting has endorsed Mrs. Dunn and written letters to newspapers touting her candidacy.

        The Beiting name has always been well known and well respected in Campbell County politics. Mrs. Beiting showed one of the reasons why.

Henson jumping in
        Independence Democrat Jaimie Henson will end months of speculation Friday when she formally announces her bid to run against state Sen. Jack Westwood of Erlanger.

        Democrats think Mr. Westwood is vulnerable, at least in part because he hasn't seemed to attract a lot of early support and money from area Republicans.

        But Mr. Westwood does have more than $30,000 in the bank, which is a good war chest to have going into a contested race. And a lot of Republican donors have been sitting back and saving their money, waiting to see whether Mr. Westwood drew an opponent.

        Well, he has one now. So look for the cash to start to tumble in.

Fletcher helps out
        U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher, the Lexington Republican who represents Kentucky's 6th District, will appear at state Rep. Paul Marcotte's Nov. 7 fund-raiser.

        The two served in the Statehouse together in 1995 and 1996, before Mr. Fletcher left to run for Congress.

        Mr. Marcotte, a Union Republican, has announced he will seek a fourth term in Frankfort next year.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 578-5581, or (502) 875-7526 in Frankfort, or by e-mail at crowleys@cinci.infi.net

       



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