Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Others weigh GOP primary

Interest kindled by relinquished seat in Congress

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - With Democrat U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas giving up his seat in Washington, more Republicans are now pondering a run at the May GOP congressional primary.

No other candidates have jumped into a Republican primary that already features two well-funded candidates, Boone County business consultant Geoff Davis - who barely lost in 2002 to Lucas - and Erlanger lawyer Kevin Murphy.

But potential contenders are beginning to emerge, buoyed by the political axiom that it is far easier to win an open Congressional seat than to challenge an incumbent.

Democrats appear to have settled on media personality Nick Clooney of Augusta, who last week surprised local political observers by announcing he will run for the seat Lucas will step down from next year. The names of three possible candidates emerged in Republican circles over the weekend:

• State Sen. Katie Stine, who considered running for the Fourth District seat in 2000 and harbors a long-held ambition to serve in Congress. Stine did not return phone calls for comment.

• Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, who has been deflecting speculation that he will leave Northern Kentucky to take a cabinet or other high-level post with the administration of Governor-elect Ernie Fletcher in Frankfort.

Moore said Monday he has received "several phone calls of encouragement" to enter the congressional primary but it's "doubtful" he'll get in the race. But he would not rule it out, either.

"I'm flattered that people are asking me to consider it, but it's really doubtful at this point I'll do it," Moore said. "I really love what I'm doing in Boone County, and when I think about the possibilities knowing we have Ernie Fletcher in Frankfort and what we might accomplish here, it would be very hard to leave Boone County." Moore had made a similar argument in dismissing speculation he will join Fletcher in Frankfort.

• State Rep. Jon Draud of Edgewood. Draud only recently decided against running for state Senate next year. He said Monday he is considering the race.

"People are encouraging me," Draud said. "It would be hard to get in at this late stage. Davis and Murphy have been working it and raising money for a while. But running for Congress is something I've always wanted to do. Like so many other things in life, it all comes down to timing."

Draud is running for re-election to his statehouse seat, though for now he is unopposed. He said he would likely decide on the congressional race by Dec. 16, when he has a campaign fund-raiser at the Kenton Hills home of developer Ray Beil.


E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com

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