Ken Lucas

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Ken Lucas
Kenlucasky.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Jim Bunning
Succeeded by Geoff Davis
Personal details
Born Kenneth Ray Lucas
(1933-08-22) August 22, 1933 (age 80)
Kenton County, Kentucky
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Lucas
Religion Disciples of Christ

Kenneth Ray "Ken" Lucas (born August 22, 1933) is an American politician. Lucas, a Democrat, was a U.S. Representative from Kentucky's 4th congressional district from 1999 until 2005.

Lucas did not run for reelection in 2004, honoring a promise to serve only three terms. However, he made a bid for his old congressional seat in 2006 against Geoff Davis, the Republican who won the seat in 2004. Lucas narrowly defeated Davis in 2002, even as popular Republican Senator Mitch McConnell breezed to a fourth term in a big midterm cycle for Republicans.

On February 2, 2009, he was appointed as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Steve Beshear.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Lucas was born in Covington, Kentucky and grew up on a dairy and tobacco farm in Grant County. He attended the University of Kentucky, graduating in 1955. Lucas received his MBA from Xavier University in 1970. He served for 12 years in the Air Force, later serving in the Air National Guard and retiring as a Major. He then became a certified financial planner.

From 1967 to 1974, Lucas was a city councilman in Florence; after this, he became a county commissioner in Boone County until 1982. In 1992, he was elected county judge-executive of Boone County, and in 1998 he ran successfully for the House.

Lucas' 1998 victory came as something of a surprise even though Democrats have a substantial majority in registration. The influence of the heavily Republican Cincinnati suburbs had kept the district in Republican hands for 32 years, and it is widely considered to be the most Republican district in Kentucky. His victory was even more remarkable since six-term incumbent Jim Bunning made a successful run for the Senate in 1998, winning largely by winning his old district by a margin that Democrat Scotty Baesler couldn't make up in the rest of the state.

Lucas was reelected in 2000 even as the district gave George W. Bush his largest victory margin in the state (the territory currently in the district has not supported a Democrat for President since 1964).

Lucas was one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, as reflected by National Journal rankings. He also had a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 72, the highest of any Democrat in the 108th Congress. However, he shared most Democrats' wariness about privatizing Social Security. He was asked several times to switch parties and become a Republican.

Lucas heavily recruited Cincinnati television personality Nick Clooney to run against Davis in his stead in 2004, but Davis defeated Clooney 55% to 45%. A Christian, Lucas and his wife Mary have five children.

Run for Congress 2006[edit]

Local and national Democratic Party leaders recruited Lucas to make a run for his old seat. He formally announced his candidacy on January 30. He had been leaning toward running for some time, and Davis had reportedly been acting as if Lucas would be his opponent. Even though many of the backers of the "Draft Ken Lucas" effort were considerably more liberal than Lucas had been in Congress, they felt that Lucas had a realistic chance of putting the seat back in Democratic hands.

In a press release, Lucas slammed Davis for being too loyal to the Republican leadership at the 4th District's expense. He also charged that Davis "has done nothing" to distance himself from the scandals that currently surround House Republicans.

Most pundits had written off the 4th as a Republican lock for 2006, but Lucas' entry instantly turned the race from a cakewalk for Davis into one of the hottest in the campaign cycle, even though the 4th is considered the most Republican district in Kentucky. Despite a substantial Democratic advantage in voter registration, the influence of the heavily Republican Cincinnati suburbs kept the district in Republican hands from 1967 until Lucas won the seat in 1998. In August Congressional Quarterly rated this race as "Lean Republican." In late July the Washington Post also rated the race as a toss-up.[2] A SurveyUSA poll released on July 25, 2006 showed Lucas leading 50% to 41%,[3] although Davis has a decisive lead in fundraising.[4]

Lucas ended up losing to Davis by nine points: 43% to 52%.

A "Blue-Dog" Democrat[edit]

Though the 4th congressional district in Kentucky is arguably the most conservative district in the state, Lucas won his three terms by stressing his conservative social views. He is pro-life, pro-gun and against gay marriage. He supported President Bush's tax cuts while in Congress and also voted in favor of going to war in Iraq. Along with other Democrats in Washington, he is vocal about being a "Blue Dog Democrat." This comes from the old (Southern) phrase of "Yellow dog Democrats" — people who would vote Democrat even if a yellow dog was the nominee. To distance themselves from attacks (such as being too liberal), they formed the coalition.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kentucky Department of Veteran's Affairs-Commissioner Biography
  2. ^ Eight Issues That Will Shape the 2006 Elections (washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ http://www.wcpo.com/news/2006/local/07/25/survey.html
  4. ^ U.S. House, Kentucky District 4 | Elections | washingtonpost.com

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Bunning
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 4th congressional district

1999–2005
Succeeded by
Geoff Davis