Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Nick sticks to home front


Clooney would rather rub shoulders with voters in N.Ky.'s 4th District

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Congressional candidate Nick Clooney skipped the chance to mingle with party bigwigs and campaign donors at the Democratic National Convention.

Instead, he's meeting with Rotarians, homebuilders and down-home Democrats in his bid for the 4th District seat in northern Kentucky.

Other Democratic hopefuls - Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo and 3rd District congressional candidate Tony Miller - went to Boston, looking for help in campaigns against incumbent Republicans.

Not Clooney. "No votes up there," he said Tuesday.

"It seems to me that the most important thing I can do is get out here and talk to these folks and listen to them," Clooney said in a phone interview. "We'll find out when November comes if I was right or not."

Clooney is running against Republican Geoff Davis for the seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Democrat.

Clooney, father of actor George Clooney and brother of the late singer-actress Rosemary Clooney, attended a Rotary club meeting Monday in Ashland. He met with a homebuilders group Tuesday in northern Kentucky and planned to catch a Democratic picnic Wednesday in Fleming County.

On the night John Kerry gives his acceptance speech in Boston, Clooney will be playing host at a town hall meeting in Campbell County.

Justin Brasell, a spokesman for the Davis campaign, said Clooney decided to "hide out in Kentucky" and avoid association with Democratic liberals. He noted Clooney had raised money in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. - two other places where no one can vote for him.

"What is the real reason he's not going to Boston?" Brasell said. "I think obviously it's because in Boston, he can't run away from the liberal agenda of John Kerry, a liberal agenda that Nick Clooney shares."

Clooney said his absence from the convention was a reflection of how he wanted to run his campaign, not a slight toward Kerry.

"I'm not running away from Mr. Kerry," he said. "He's a great American hero and a fine public servant and I wish him well." But, "I'm an independent guy, and I figure I better get this on my own," he said.

Lucas, the incumbent, skipped the Democratic convention in Los Angeles four years ago because he differed with party nominee Al Gore over abortion, gun control and tobacco. Lucas is attending portions of the convention in Boston.

Mongiardo, running against U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, collected about $5,000 for his campaign at a private fund raiser in Cambridge, Mass., on Sunday. He met more potential donors Tuesday and told them: "Our country's headed in the wrong direction."

Mongiardo, a surgeon, has been campaigning heavily on health care and pocketbook issues - prescription drug prices, college costs, job losses.

Bunning campaign manager David Young said Mongiardo "has to go to his liberal base in Massachusetts to find support for his sinking campaign."

Miller, running against U.S. Rep. Anne Northup in the Louisville area, arrived in Boston on Tuesday. Terry McMahon, a Miller campaign spokesman, said the goal of Miller's appearance was to show potential contributors that "this is a race where Democrats can pick up a seat."

Miller said he was being whisked to a series of events arranged by Democratic strategists to meet with potential financial backers.

"They just want me to get out as much as I can," Miller said.

Northup's campaign manager, Patrick Neely, said Miller should spend more time espousing his views on issues such as expanding the economy and fighting terrorism.

"So before Tony spends one more day looking to raise his national profile in Boston, he should tell the voters of this community exactly where he stands on the complicated issues that face Congress," Neely said.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler was spending his time at the convention with fellow Kentuckians or congressional cohorts, said spokesman Jason Sauer.

Chandler - who won a special election for the 6th District seat previously held by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher - has been sought after for many events at the convention, Sauer said.

"His election in February was a real jolt for the party nationwide, and people are wanting to meet him," Sauer said.




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