Wednesday, November 5, 2003

State victory by Grayson, 31, gives N. Ky., GOP clout

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - For the first time in more than 80 years, a Northern Kentucky resident has been elected to a state constitutional office.

Park Hills lawyer Trey Grayson defeated Louisville Democrat Russ Maple on Tuesday to claim the Kentucky secretary of state's race.

With 92 percent of the precincts reporting statewide, Grayson had 52 percent of the vote; Maple had 48 percent.

"It feels absolutely awesome," Grayson, 31, said over the din of a loud victory party at Lexington's Marriott Griffin Gate hotel. "We had a plan from the beginning, we knew what we had to do, and we executed it. And we had a lot of people who worked hard, and that's what made the difference for us."

Grayson carried Kenton County, where he was born and raised and is a member of the Kenton County Republican Executive Committee. He earned 22,054 votes, compared with 10,386 for Maple.

Grayson's victory will bode well for Northern Kentucky, said Marc Wilson of Florence, a lobbyist and GOP strategist who was with Grayson in Lexington.

"We knew Trey Grayson was a rising star, and tonight he proved it," Wilson said. "This helps give Northern Kentucky and Republicans a stronger voice in Frankfort."

Grayson has been active on the local political scene, but he had never run for or held elective office. His victory is historic for the region.

Lakeside Park Republican Will Terwort, a law student and local political historian, said that a Northern Kentucky politician has not won statewide office since 1919. That's when two-term Covington Mayor John Craig, a Republican, was elected auditor as part of a GOP sweep of state offices.

Kenton County Commissioner Adam Koenig fell far short of knocking off Democratic incumbent Jonathan Miller in the state treasurer's race.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Miller had 57 percent compared with 43 percent for Koenig.

Koenig, of Villa Hills, did carry his home county, winning 20,094 votes compared with 11,917 for Miller. Koenig was also the only candidate facing an incumbent in Tuesday's election.

"At least the folks back home came out and supported me, and I knew they would," Koenig said. "But the voters, God bless them, have spoken. Even with what happened in my race, this is going to be a big night for the Republicans."

Koenig said he could not overcome Miller's incumbency or his fund-raising advantage.

"I think I had a good message, but it's difficult to get that message out when you are outspent 15-to-1."

Koenig said he is happy with his seat on the Kenton County Fiscal Court and does not anticipate running for statewide office in the future.


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