Thursday, May 6, 2004

Mongiardo's errors not Rx for success

Pat Crowley

Watching some political campaigns can be like watching the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds blow a nine-run lead and you scream at the TV, "What the #@%* are they doing?"

Some recent moves by the campaign of Democrat Dan Mongiardo could easily elicit the same reaction.

Mongiardo, a physician who likes to refer to himself as "Dr. Dan," is running a campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning that is about as listless as a flu patient.

The campaign manager quit. Fund-raising is on life support, with Bunning - a Southgate Republican - hauling in $5.2 million compared with Dr. Dan's paltry $481,000. And that includes $200,000 of his own dough. More than 60 percent of the money raised is going to campaign staff salaries. And he is paying out more cash than he is bringing in. During the first quarter, the campaign raised $174,000 but spent about $200,000.

It has since been corrected, but at one point Dr. Dan's campaign Web site asked donors to "make a generous, tax-deductible contribution." That was a problem, because campaign contributions aren't tax-deductible.

It goes on and on.

A piece of campaign correspondence misspelled Dr. Dan's last name.

During his statewide fly-around last week - a tour that skipped Northern Kentucky - the numbers of Democratic supporters were reportedly tiny at most locations.

Then there's this priceless gaffe:

An invitation for a Dr. Dan fund-raiser ended up going to Mary Bunning, the Senator's wife. Jimmy Hoffa is going to show up at that event before she will.

Roll Call, the Washington-based political newspaper, published a story on the race last week under the headline "Kentucky a fading target."

The story characterized Mongiardo's campaign as in a "free fall" and suffering from "financial and organizational struggles."

An unnamed D.C. Democrat who is described in the article as having "strong ties to Kentucky" is quoted as saying "the national community is starting to write this off. This thing looks too tough on paper."

Dr. Dan does work hard. He has made several trips to Northern Kentucky to campaign and raise money. And he is good at pointing out differences between himself and Bunning.

For instance, the campaign's most recent press release touts endorsements from the teachers' and miners' unions. Granted, both traditionally support Democrats. But it doesn't hurt to have them on your side in Kentucky.

Still, Dr. Dan has to get his campaign and fund-raising money on a more focused and professional path. If not, his political aspirations will be DOA in November.

E-mail Crowley interviews Boone County statehouse candidate Addia Wuchner this week on ICN6's "On the Record," which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.

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