Saturday, September 27, 2003

Governor debate at NKU

Supporters enumerate hopefuls' strengths

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Of course Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Ben Chandler both want to "win" Tuesday's gubernatorial debate at Northern Kentucky University.

What: Democrat Ben Chandler vs. Republican Ernie Fletcher
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Regents Hall, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights
But more is at stake than having the best plan to pay for prescription drugs or articulating a vision on tax reform.

In the only public debate of the campaign being held in Northern Kentucky, Chandler and Fletcher need to energize their political bases while wooing undecided voters, say local supporters of both candidates.

Chandler needs to tout his experience from three terms - two as attorney general and one as auditor - serving in statewide office, said Covington Democrat Jerry Stricker.

"Ben needs to face Fletcher face-to-face as many times as he can," said Stricker, a top Chandler campaign operative. "Ben knows Kentucky and he has a command of the issues. Fletcher (a congressman from Lexington) has been off in Washington. He knows nothing about what Kentucky needs from its state government. Ben knows what Kentucky needs and he knows how to get it done."

Fletcher must convey that Northern Kentucky will not be forgotten if he is elected, said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, one of Fletcher's regional campaign chairmen.

"We've been ignored in Frankfort for many years when it comes to projects and attention," Moore said. "Ernie needs to continue with his message that he has been delivering here, that this election and transfer of power in Frankfort is critical to the future of Northern Kentucky."

Kenton County GOP Chairman Greg Shumate, also a member of Fletcher's Northern Kentucky campaign inner circle, said it would be important for Fletcher to "continue to talk about being friendly to Northern Kentucky and to our infrastructure needs so that business can continue to thrive and expand here."

The 4 p.m. debate is at NKU's Regents Hall. . Its main sponsor is Legacy, young professionals active in politics and community issues.


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