Monday, July 26, 2004

Ky. candidates could benefit from Dean

Grass-roots organization promotes progressive platforms

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Some Democratic candidates in Kentucky could see unexpected money flow into their campaigns from the same Internet supporters and small donors that energized Howard Dean's run for the presidency last year.

The 12 hand-picked Kentucky candidates are running for offices ranging from Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council to Congress.

Throughout the summer, Democracy for America, a Vermont-based political committee inspired by Dean's presidential campaign, has selected a "Dean Dozen" of candidates, whose information is forwarded to 600,000 mailing list members nationwide. Those endorsements have often led to generous donations and national attention for the candidates.

Dean dropped out of the Democratic presidential race in March, and transformed his campaign into a political action committee to help progressive candidates.

Democracy for America will receive the names of the 12 Kentucky nominees, who were chosen by the committee's local partner group, Change for Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Those names will then be lumped into a pool with other candidates from across the country from which Dean's group will select 12. Change for Kentucky's organizers expect only three or four of the nominees to make the next Dean Dozen list, which will be the last before the Nov. 2 election.

The list of Kentucky candidates includes Democratic congressional candidate Adam Smith, who is running against Rep. Ron Lewis, and seven state legislative members or challengers.

But even if most don't receive national attention, the local group plans to organize volunteers and train the candidates to run effective grass-roots campaigns.

"With our 12, it's not just about money, but people power," said Change for Kentucky co-founder Jane Jensen, a University of Kentucky higher education professor. "We want to make sure these people who we've selected have all the tools they need."

Once Democracy for America makes the final cut, it will trumpet the selected candidates' platforms to Dean supporters who are encouraged to send money, whether $5 or $500.

Kentucky Republican Party chairman John McCarthy said he wasn't aware of any groups like Democracy for America raising awareness and money for local GOP candidates.

Depending on how it works for the Democrats, it might be something to emulate, he said.

"I'm sure someone like Bob Dole has a list of people he could send candidate information to," he said, then paused.

"Hmmm. I might do that kind of thing with Sen. (Mitch) McConnell or some others. With good ideas, the best thing about them is you can copy them."

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