By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A second Democrat has entered the race for the Senate seat held by Northern Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning.
State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, 43, a Democrat from Hazard in the eastern Kentucky mountains, formally declared his candidacy Wednesday by filing campaign papers with the Federal Election Commission in Washington.
Mongiardo, a doctor who is the son of Italian immigrants who settled in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s, said Washington needs new ideas.
"Too many Kentuckians are hurting or have been forgotten by career politicians in Washington," Mongiardo said in a statement.
"I won't settle for the way things are. We need fresh ideas and new approaches."
Mongiardo, a two-term state senator, has practiced medicine at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Medical Center for 13 years. He said health care would be one of his priorities if elected, as would national security, economic development and improving education.
"While politicians in Washington just keep talking, health care costs keep skyrocketing, the quality of care is dropping and too many Kentuckians are forced to go without insurance," he said.
"It's time to replace career politicians like Jim Bunning with leaders willing to make the real changes necessary to get things done, putting patients' safety above all else and getting the spiraling cost of health care under control."
Bunning - who lives in Southgateand played Major League Baseball before entering politics - has raised nearly $2 million for his re-election campaign.
He appears to be in a strong position given the GOP's success in Kentucky and the continued popularity in the state of President Bush, who will head the Republican ticket next year.
"Bunning is strong, well-financed and popular," said Fort Mitchell Councilman Michael Plummer, a Bunning supporter and campaign contributor. "And he is a friend of President Bush.
"Mongiardo has no name, no money and a broken Democratic machine for a campaign team," he said.
"He should get braced for a whacking - a Bush whacking."
Mongiardo's entry guarantees a Democratic primary in May. Fred Cowan of Louisville, former state attorney general, has already entered.
Louisville businessman Charlie Owen is reportedly thinking about getting in. Owen ran for the Senate Democratic nomination in 1998, losing to Scotty Baesler of Lexington.
Baesler lost the general election to Bunning, who joined the Senate after serving six terms in the House of Representatives from Kentucky's 4th District.
Owen was the lieutenant governor running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Chandler in the Nov. 4 election. They lost to Republicans Ernie Fletcher and Steve Pence by 10 percentage points.
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