Potential GOP 4th District candidates praise Geoff Davis as they mull running in '12

12/15/2011 07:34 PM

Surprised by the announcement that Congressman Geoff Davis won’t run again in 2012, Northern Kentucky Republicans burned up the phone lines Thursday night buzzing about possible candidates to succeed him.

The list of potential candidates on the GOP side already includes several county officials, a former secretary of state, lawmakers and former political aides.

Kevin Sell, a Campbell County businessman who is vice president of United Group Services, said he plans to make a decision about running by the end of the weekend after talking with his family.

“I firmly believe that a quick decision is necessary from a strategic sense,” he said in a phone interview after talking it over with family members at his mother’s house in Silver Grove.

Sell, who narrowly lost a GOP primary in 2010 for Campbell County judge-executive, has been a close ally to Davis. He has served as his 4th District campaign chairman.

Sell said Davis broke the news of his decision to him Thursday morning. But the two didn’t talk about Sell potentially running next year. Sell said he has been contacted by friends and Republican consultants about making the run.

As for his friend, Davis, Sell said his legacy would be focusing his congressional office budget on field offices across the Northern Kentucky district.

“He is known throughout the Congress as having the finest constituent services,” he said.

Many others being mentioned as potential candidates told Pure Politics that they would be discussing it with their families and with Davis in the coming days and weeks.

UPDATE: Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown said Friday morning he is considering it. “I’m very happy being the clerk … but this is a rare opportunity,” he said. “I’m going to be taking a look at it.”

State Rep. Alecia Webb Edgington of Fort Wright is the Republican Party’s 4th congressional district chairwoman. She said in a phone interview that she greatly respects Davis and was “taken aback” when learning he wouldn’t be running again in order to spend more time with his family.

“Politics takes a large toll on your family,” Webb-Edgington said.

She said she would “begin discussions with my family in the next couple days.”

Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie, a Republican first elected in 2010, said he wants to talk with Davis and his staff in the coming days.

“I had thought about this maybe further down the road,” Massie said in a phone interview. Massie said he has been “networking with a lot of tea party groups” throughout his first year in office.

Massie said he already had received messages and calls from friends and supporters urging him to run.

Hunter Bates, an Oldham County resident who runs the lobbying firm Bates Capitol, called Davis “one of the finest men I have ever known, inside or outside of the nation’s capital” and said his “intellect, experience and values cannot be replaced.”

Bates, a former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, also didn’t rule out running for the 4th District next year.

“The most important thing in my life is my wife and three children,” he said. “We will prayerfully consider whether this is the right moment to re-enter the political arena.”

Bates’ only experience as a candidate was brief. In 2003 he ran as lieutenant governor candidate on the slate with Republican Ernie Fletcher. But Bates dropped off the ticket after a judge ruled he didn’t meet the residency requirements for a statewide candidate.

Another name being mentioned is former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who currently serves as director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Grayson has been living in Massachusetts, but as of this fall had not yet sold his house in Boone County. In addition, rules for congressional candidates only require a candidate to have an address in the district when they file their candidacy papers.

Other names being mentioned by Republicans include Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore; state Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger; and Rick Robinson, former aide to Sen. Jim Bunning.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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