Tuesday, June 18, 2002

GOP candidate tours district

By Patrick Crowley, pcrowley@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — GOP congressional candidate Geoff Davis, coming off a primary win and heading for the November election against incumbent Democrat Ken Lucas, is off to see the district.

        Mr. Davis, of Hebron, is spending the week touring all 24 counties of the 4th District he wants to represent.

        Making his first run for office, Mr. Davis also has challenged Mr. Lucas to six debates.

        Standing before about a dozen supporters and three reporters, Mr. Davis kicked-off his six-day campaign swing Monday morning at the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington.

        “We were honored to receive such a strong show of support in the primary election, but we must not rest on our current success,” Mr. Davis said. He grabbed 78 percent of the vote in his May 28th win over Roger Thoney.

        “We will bring our message of strong leadership and community values to all of the people in Kentucky's 4th District,” he said.

        Mr. Davis said he will talk to voters, supporters and reporters during his campaign swing through the district, which runs along the Ohio River from the West Virginia border to near Louisville and includes all of Northern Kentucky.

        Late last week Mr. Davis challenged Mr. Lucas to debate six times before the November election. Two of the debates would be held in Northern Kentucky with others in Oldham, Harrison, Fleming and Boyd counties.

        In a letter to Mr. Lucas — who is seeking his third term — Mr. Davis said the debates “can be held at times and venues mutually agreeable to our campaigns.”

        Bob Doyle, Mr. Lucas' Washington-based campaign consultant fund-raiser, said debates will be held, but it's too early to talk about them now.

        Mr. Doyle also suggested six debates is too many.

        “We've never turned down a debate challenge,” Mr. Doyle said Monday. “We've participated in a reasonable amount of debates in the past. But we'll talk more about that when we get a little closer to the election when voters are paying more attention.”

        Mr. Doyle said Mr. Davis needs to issue debate challenges and go on campaign tours of the district to generate interest in his candidacy.

        Mr. Davis also might be seeking some favorable publicity to take attention away from fund-raising, Mr. Doyle said.

        In the first quarter, Mr. Lucas raised $174,648 and had nearly $516,000 cash on hand, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

        During the same period, Mr. Davis raised $81,716 and had about $223,000 cash, according to his federal campaign report.

        Reports for the second quarter of this year, which ends June 30, must be filed with the Federal Election Commission by July 15. On that report Mr. Doyle said Mr. Lucas will file a “big number,” but he would not elaborate.

        “We're taking Geoff Davis seriously. We've said that all along,” Mr. Doyle said. “But he is going to have a long way to go when it comes to raising money.”

        The Davis campaign is touting a July 5 fund-raiser that will feature a visit from House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.. The event will be held in Union at the home of Richard Knock, Mr. Davis' finance chairman.

        Donors will pay $100 to attend, $250 to be a co-host and $1,000 to have their photo snapped with Mr. Hastert.

        Democrats have questioned the effectiveness of bringing in national political figures to raise money. They have pointed out that a May 31 fund-raiser in Oldham County that featured a visit from House Republican Leader Dick Armey attracted only $25,000 for the Davis campaign.

        The Davis campaign is encouraged by a campaign briefing on the 2002 congressional elections prepared by Karl Rove, a top adviser to President Bush.

        A computer disk not meant for the public containing the briefing was lost by a White House staffer on a public street. It ended up being leaked to reporters last week in Washington.

        In his analysis, Mr. Rove indicates that Mr. Lucas is one of the most 10 vulnerable Democrats in the country.

        “When the national leadership campaigns in the 4th District, it won't be for Ken Lucas,” Mr. Davis said Monday.

        The Lucas camp, also quick to mention when Mr. Lucas votes with Mr. Bush or when the president acknowledges the Congressman, played down Mr. Rove's briefing.

        “We're not worried about the White House,” Mr. Doyle said. “They are not going to make a difference in this race.”


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