Sunday, July 25, 2004

Deja vu once again as Clooney shuns his fellow Democrats


Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley

Haven't we danced this dance before?

The Democrats' 4th Congressional District candidate shuns the party's national political convention and flees from the Dems' top leaders and candidates as if they have an infection.

Four years ago it was U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas of Boone County avoiding fellow Democrats like he was a Republican.

Lucas was running for a second term against Don "Never Heard The" Bell, an Oldham County Republican.

Though it turned out Bell didn't pose much of a threat, Lucas was concerned that cozying up to any national Democratic figure might hurt his standing with conservative voters.

So Lucas decided to stay home from the 2000 Democratic National Convention rather than publicly back Al Gore for president. Gore was on the wrong side of a whole bunch of issues important to many district voters - including abortion, gun control and tobacco. So Lucas was not about to show up in Tinsel Town for the party's nominating party.

Lucas is once again a delegate. And since he's not running for re-election, he presumably will be in Boston to help nominate the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

But Nick Clooney, the Bracken County Democrat running for Lucas' seat, won't be in Bean Town. And don't look for him to beg John Kerry, John Edwards or any other national Democratic figures to stump for him in the district.

In his race against Republican Geoff Davis, Clooney is busy enough refuting claims he is too tied into the Hollywood crowd of his actor son, George.

He doesn't need the additional baggage of a couple of senators who racked up liberal voting records in Washington. It's bad enough that he has to share space with them on the November ballot.

"Nick is a Kentucky guy, he doesn't need help from any of the folks who are going to be in Boston," said B.J. Neidhardt, Clooney's campaign manager. "It is more important to him to get help from the folks who are going to be in Maysville, Ashland and Flemingsburg."

Clooney is not a delegate to the convention. But hundreds of Dem leaders and candidates will head for Boston for the politicking and partying.

Rather than joining them, Clooney told the Associated Press last week he's staying home to campaign.

"I don't think it's proper for Sen. Kerry or Sen. Edwards to try to pick me up and carry me on their backs across the finish line," Clooney said.

"I'm going to do this on my own."

In other words, thanks but no thanks.

Davis would swim the Ohio for a chance to have a photo op with George Bush. Clooney would probably go the opposite way to avoid Kerry. Doesn't say much about the top of the Dems' ticket, does it?

Patrick Crowley interviews state senate candidate Cliff Wallace this week on ICN6's "On The Record," which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com




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