By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - State Sen. Damon Thayer will step down as the state's second highest-ranking Republican Party official to concentrate on his re-election campaign.
Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown in Scott County, represents Kentucky's 17th Senate District, which includes more than 20 Kenton County precincts south of Independence and Taylor Mill. He is challenged in the November general election by Williamstown Democrat Cliff Wallace, the retired superintendent of the Williamstown and Pendleton County school districts.
Thayer plans to leave his position as vice chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party Feb. 28. He has held the post for five years. A successor has not yet been named.
"With Republicans holding the majority in the Senate and (Republican) Gov. Ernie Fletcher as our state's chief executive, I am in a strong position of influence for the district I represent," Thayer said in a statement.
"I want to devote more time to work as a state senator and to my family," he said.
Thayer also wants to focus on his campaign. With $60,000 in the bank, Thayer said he plans "a vigorous fund-raising and campaign schedule."
Thayer was elected last January in a special election to fill a newly drawn Senate seat that in addition to southern Kenton County covers all of Grant, Scott and Owen counties.
A former director of marketing for Turfway Park in Florence, Thayer now works as an executive with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Breeders' Cup in Lexington.
In an interview last week, Wallace said he also plans to run an aggressive campaign.
"I think Damon Thayer, Ernie Fletcher and others in Frankfort need to explain the millions of dollars in education cuts the governor wants in the budget," Wallace said. "That's not putting kids or education first."
Fletcher has proposed cutting education by more than $70 million, which he said is necessary to balance the state's budget.
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