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May 2, 2003

Richards launches TV campaign

From: Louisville Courier Journal, KY - May 2, 2003

Spot is praised for addition of closed captioning
The Courier-Journal

House Speaker Jody Richards took his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor to television yesterday, promising to run only positive commercials until the May 20 primary.

The 30-second spot highlights Richards' education plan, which includes smaller class sizes in early grades, higher teacher salaries, all-day kindergarten and more preschools ? and no specifics of how to pay for those and other measures in the plan.

The commercial is closed-captioned for the deaf and hearing-impaired, an inexpensive addition but a relative rarity in political advertising. In a more costly move, Richards said his new Web site is being engineered to make part of its content accessible to the blind.

Richards said his vow to stay positive is not intended to strike a contrast with the other major Democratic candidates ? businessman Bruce Lunsford and Attorney General Ben Chandler ? who have much more money and have been on TV for many weeks.

" I t's more of a lifestyle and philosophy than any sort of strategy, " Richards said. " In running for office in 27 years I've never run a negative ad, and I'm not going to start now. "

Lunsford has run ads attacking Chandler specifically and Frankfort politicians generally, and Chandler has replied with an ad attacking Lunsford's record in running a company that operated nursing homes.

Last week Lunsford returned to a general attack that mentions no individual. Chandler responded with an ad about his own record and challenged Lunsford, who has poured a record $6.5 million of his personal wealth into his campaign, to keep the race positive. Yes terday, Lunsford started an a d in which his campaign chairman, Hindman physician Grady Stumbo, praises Lunsford and says, "Career politicians like Ben Chandler will say anything to get elected."

A t the end of Richards ' ad, he says: " We think you deserve a positive campaign. See our Web site for the whole plan. " The site is at

Richards has proposed mandatory all-day kindergarten, beginning with districts in which more than 30 percent of students are from low-income families, voluntary preschool for all 4-year-olds " beginning with the poorest rural and inner-city schools, " and putting teacher salaries " on a par with colleagues in other states. "

The state education department says all-day, statewide kindergarten would cost about $30 million a year. Estimates for Richards' other proposals were not available yesterday.

Richards reiterated t hat he would pay for the plan by " reprioritizing the budget, " growing the economy and reforming the state tax code so it keeps pace with economic growth. The next two-year state budget faces a shortfall of more than $300 million, but Richards said his plan would take a four-year gubernatorial term to accomplish its goals .

He noted that the plan includes items that would cost little or no money, such as teaching morals and values, giving teachers more authority over students and offering " alternatives to keep our kids from dropping out. " The plan says the latter would be accomplished with " one-on-one mentoring " by others in the community.

Richards' running mate for lieutenant governor, Jefferson Circuit Court Clerk Tony Miller, is featured prominently in the ad. Richards said that reflects their " team approach " and Miller's relatively high name recognition in Jefferson County.

Richards said Miller suggested the closed captioning of the ad, which cost only $225 and was praised by Martha Hinton of Louisville, an interpreter and advocate for the deaf and hearing impaired, of which she said there are 400,000 in Kentucky.

" I hope that others follow their lead, " Hinton said. She stressed that she was undecided in the race.

Hinton said some deaf people can get adequate information from newspapers and Web sites, but others, such as her mother, can ' t because they have always been deaf and communicate with sign language.

Copyright 2002 The Courier-Journal.