Sunday, September 5, 2004

Auditor one to watch in '07 governor race


Around Northern Kentucky

Click here to e-mail Patrick Crowley
More than 300 candidates are on Northern Kentucky ballots for the fall campaign. There are races for president, U.S. Congress and statehouse along with city councils and school boards in most communities.

So leave it to the media to start hyping a governor's race that won't begin for another three years.

But the 2007 gubernatorial race came to mind a few weeks ago after I heard a rousing political speech by Democratic state Auditor Crit Luallen.

Luallen was in Wilder to deliver a speech at an event commemorating the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Northern Kentucky Democratic women's groups organized and hosted it.

The talk was one of many Luallen has been giving around the state, often an indicator that a politician is laying the groundwork for a statewide run for office.

"Wasn't she great," former Newport City Commissioner Laura Roberts gushed after Luallen's Wilder speech. "I think she would make a great governor."

Apparently, I'm not the only scribe picking up on Luallen's possible gubernatorial aspirations.

In a recent column headlined, "The Woman in Waiting," The Louisville-Courier Journal's John David Dyche called Luallen "articulate, experienced, honest, intelligent and likeable."

Dyche even speculated that former state Sen. Joe Meyer of Covington, a whip-smart political strategist working as a policy adviser in the auditor's office, would be in line for a potential cabinet spot, should Luallen become governor.

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, a fellow Democrat who may one day also run for governor, said Luallen "is very, very smart and she'd be an outstanding governor ... but she certainly hasn't made the decision yet."

Now, it's always tough to beat an incumbent, and Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher would be hard to defeat.

But will Fletcher even be the incumbent in three years?

The Frankfort rumor mill has been buzzing with talk that one, or maybe both, of Kentucky's U.S. senators won't be around after the November election.

The gossip is that Mitch McConnell might take a post in the Bush administration, provided there still is a Bush administration after the election. And Southgate's Jim Bunning may retire before his next term runs out, provided he wins in November.

Fletcher could end up in the Senate, though two members of Kentucky's congressional delegation - Anne Northup of Louisville and Ed Whitfield of western Kentucky - are said to be interested if the seats do become available.

Right now, it's just a lot of talk. But Luallen is definitely a candidate to keep an eye on for the '07 race.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com. Crowley interviews Kentucky State Treasurer Jonathan Miller this week on ICN6's "On The Record," which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.




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