Sunday, October 3, 2004

Health-care plan dogs candidates


Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley
Did I miss something?

I thought having a Republican in the governor's mansion was supposed to help GOP statehouse candidates on the ballot this fall. At least that's what Republicans have been telling me - for months and months and months.

That was certainly the case in April, when Gov. Ernie Fletcher attended a fund-raiser in Edgewood for state Sen. Jack Westwood, a Crescent Springs Republican running against Fort Mitchell Democrat Kathy Groob.

It was all smiles and hugs and pats on the back that night as Fletcher rolled into town to help Westwood raise 50 large for his campaign. The governor was a big draw in helping the candidate attract cash and positive attention.

But now Fletcher's ailing health-care plan for state workers, with its huge cost increases for teachers and others, has Westwood and other Republicans looking for a remedy. And candidates such as Westwood and fellow Sen. Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican running against Grant County Democrat Cliff Wallace, are hoping Fletcher's missteps don't infect their campaigns.

But after last week's protest by Northern Kentucky teachers, it appears that the damage has already been done.

At a combination rally and protest last week at Holmes High School, Groob was greeted with a standing ovation and wild applause while Westwood and most of his fellow Republicans were given jeers, boos and shouts.

Westwood said he was bothered to see so many negative and partisan signs. What did he expect? This wasn't one of the manufactured pep rallies we see with presidential campaigns, when dissenters are booted or not even invited. This was a strong voice of opposition to government.

That it happened a month before an election makes it all the more meaningful. The politicians need to listen.

Westwood and Thayer have filed a bill to try to fix the mess. It will be considered this week during the special legislative session Fletcher intends to call.

We'll see if that's the cure. But the whole mess is enough to make a GOP politician just sick.

Slide Slider in

Legacy, Northern Kentucky's group of young professionals, has excluded Independent Michael Slider from its 4th congressional district debate Oct. 13 at Northern Kentucky University.

I've covered Slider at two forums. He's good. He knows the issues, he is articulate, and he provides a good counter to Democrat Nick Clooney and Republican Geoff Davis.

"What are they afraid of?" Slider said.

Davis said he thinks Slider should be included. I agree. Let him in. Independents will never get any footing if they are booted from the process.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com. Crowley interviews U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Daniel Mongiardo this week on ICN6's "On The Record," which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.




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