Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Lucas: Newcomer 'the ideal candidate'

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas on Monday said he would rather give up his seat in Congress that break a pledge to serve just three terms in office.

Geoff Davis (left), Republican candidate for Kentucky's Fourth District Congressional seat, and Nick Clooney, a Democrat who announced Monday he is running for the seat, chat in the hallway of WCPO's downtown office.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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Click to view a detailed Nick Clooney timeline (PDF file, 652k)
(Elizabeth Kane infographic)
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Lucas, a Boone County Democrat, helped make national news Monday with his announcement to not seek re-election in the 4th Congressional District. His decision made room for the unexpected candidacy of media personality Nick Clooney, a Democrat from Augusta, Ky., in Bracken County.

In addition to being a veteran newspaper and broadcast journalist, he is well known as the father of actor George Clooney and the brother of the late singer Rosemary Clooney.

In a statement released by his Northern Kentucky campaign office, Lucas said breaking his term limit pledge by seeking a fourth term next year "has been an ever-increasing problem for me and my conscience."

"I determined that if there was a quality Democratic candidate, I would step aside," Lucas said. "If there was not, I would stay in the race. Nick Clooney ... is a fresh face on the political scene who is intelligent, articulate, highly respected and above all passionate about standing up for his beliefs and the people of the district.

"In my view he is the ideal candidate," Lucas said.

Lucas, the only Democrat in Kentucky's delegation to Washington, said he made his decision before Republican Ernie Fletcher's win in the Nov. 4 election.

"It was felt that it would be best to wait to make this announcement after the (gubernatorial) election," he said.

Lucas believes Clooney's prospects are "excellent" in a legislative district considered one of the most conservative in the country.

"All politics are local," Lucas said. "The quality of the candidate is the major determining factor. Independent-minded voters will decide this race, not the hard-core Republicans or Democrats."

As of Oct. 15 Lucas had $380,579 in his re-election campaign fund, according to the Federal Election Commission. All contributions will be returned, "however, we will encourage them to contribute to Nick."

Lucas, 70, a former corporate financial planner who is financially secure, was non-committal about his plans.


E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com

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