Saturday, November 8, 2003

Chandler blames lack of funding for his defeat

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Ben Chandler said Friday his campaign for governor was overwhelmed by opposition money and handicapped by the Democratic Party's lack of a compelling message.

In addition, President Bush's visit to Kentucky generated a bigger turnout in Republican strongholds and Gov.-elect Ernie Fletcher "didn't make any serious mistakes," Chandler said.

In an interview, Chandler also held out the possibility of running to succeed Fletcher in the U.S. House.

He also defended his running mate for lieutenant governor, Charlie Owen, who put $500,000 into their campaign but resisted those who wanted him to reach deeper into his personal fortune.

Fletcher defeated Chandler, the state's attorney general, by about 108,000 votes Tuesday. The Democratic Party had not lost a gubernatorial election since 1967. Fletcher carried 86 counties, running on a promise to "clean up the mess in Frankfort" after all those years of having Democrats in power.

"We didn't have a ready-made message," Chandler said. "They had a ready-made message, and it was simple. It was 'Let's clean up the mess in Frankfort; I'm a Republican. Democrats have caused this mess, and I'm a Republican.' "

Chandler said he suspects he was outspent by $10 million to $15 million, a total that includes $8 million spent by Bruce Lunsford to run against him in the primary.

"A good deal of it boils down to the amount of money spent," Chandler said. "I don't think, frankly, if Charlie had put a couple million more, I'm not sure that it would have made a great big difference."

Meanwhile, Fletcher was running on the Republican side on the theme that it was time for a change. Chandler said the two campaigns meshed well in the public consciousness, and there is "circumstantial evidence to suggest some coordination."

Chandler said a turning point occurred long before the campaign when Republicans in the Kentucky Senate succeeded in eliminating public financing and spending limits in gubernatorial campaigns. That enabled the GOP to bring more money to bear on the race.

Chandler said one commercial by the Republican Governors Association was especially effective. The 30-second television spot, referring to Chandler's handling of a lawsuit against health insurance giant Anthem Inc., said Chandler "wasted" part of the $45 million settlement.

Chandler was furious about the ad, which he called a gross distortion, and Fletcher distanced himself from it. But Chandler said his campaign's polling showed that the ad had worked because large numbers of voters suddenly were pushed into the Fletcher column.

Chandler's term as attorney general expires in the first week of January. He said he had not decided what to do but would not rule out running in a special election to complete Fletcher's congressional term, provided he could get the Democratic nomination. Chandler said he had no interest in running against U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning next year because he is not prepared for another statewide campaign.

Grief envelops victim's family
Suspect thought company out to get him, dad says
Memorial recalls 1995 shootings

Condo craze builds in city
Full recovery expected for boy hit by van
Church argues records private
Last-minute deal preserves historic courthouse files

Art museum and kids do mix, at education center
Clermont ceremony salutes military
Cinergy critics pursue case
Fairfield schools facing crisis
You're out of order; go directly to jail
MU student awaiting sentence charged again
Middletown schools focus on diversity
New Miami Schools show how it's done
Parade missing its music
Progressive recitals show off church organs
Regional Report
Veterans Day programs

McNutt: Historians create motor tour of Morgan Twp. landmarks
Howard: Good Things Happening
Faith matters: Author tells of angels, miracles

Robert Deardorff ran insurance firm
Sister C. T. Reissig was happy to serve
Kentucky obituaries

Ohio wins round in dispute over inmate religious rules
Defense bill benefits Wright-Pat base
Pawn shop shooting suspect arrested in neighboring Pa.
Expulsion sought over cartoons
Ted Berry became Cincinnati mayor

Lawmakers seek stricter ATV laws
Kentucky News Briefs
Chandler blames lack of funding for his defeat
Hustler store draws opposition
Male inmate passed as woman for months
Earning a home by their sweat
N. Ky. business, lawmakers at odds
Kentucky to do