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Lewis' antics give him a black eye

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By Richard RoBards

Not many of us get a chance to choose our successor. Most of us wouldn't consider it part of our job.

That's how it is in the private sector. But politics are different.

My cynical mind tells me Congressman Ron Lewis was trying to handpick his successor - Daniel London - last week when one filed and the other withdrew all within a few minutes of each other, so close to the filing deadline.

London is a pretty nice guy and I'm sure politically savvy. I've met him on several occasions, mostly at Chamber functions when as Lewis' chief of staff he was representing his boss. Sometimes Lewis would be there himself.

I haven't always agreed with everything our sitting Congressman does or supports, but he's been good with the gravy and a lot of people have benefited from his ability to transfer pork from Washington, D.C. to his district.

Lewis has been a survivor. He's been our elected U.S. Congressman for the past 14 years. He won a special election in 1994 to complete Rep. William Natcher's unexpired term. Lewis made history. He was the only Republican to ever hold the job. He kept it. People like him when they get behind the curtain of a voting machine.

Over the years, Lewis has been Johnny On the Spot with his press releases. If someone is getting a check, he's letting us know he's our Congressman. Of course, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning are pretty quick with the PR machine, too.

Anyway, good news travels fast - especially in political circles. Our fax and our e-mail accounts have become very easy receptacles for news out of Washington - mostly the good news.

If Lewis filed for re-election, we heard about it pretty quick. If some industry or business got a contract or grant, electronic transmissions were popping up on multiple computers. The PR machine worked like the well-oiled machine that it is.

But that PR machine broke down last week about the same time the filing deadline (Tuesday, Jan. 29) for the May Primary approached.

On the afternoon of Jan. 29, Lewis' staff was saying he was still running.

London's wife showed up at the Secretary of State's office last Tuesday to file her husband's paperwork to run for U.S. Congress. She also filed other papers withdrawing Lewis from the race.

I can't say with any certainty that Lewis and London were being sneaky. Calculated might be a more pleasant adjective. They were at least in cahoots in an apparent attempt to grease the filing process to their distinct advantage. I figure if people knew Lewis wasn't going to run, there would have been several Republicans wanting a shot at the job.

But secrets are hard to keep. Brett Guthrie seized the opportunity and filed his own paperwork.

Voters will have the ultimate say in who represents the Republican Party in the November General Election. And that's the way it should be.

Politics shouldn't be a pass-the-torch, last-minute, seems-too-calculated-even-for-the-most-nave procedure.

It's America and Lewis can support and endorse anyone he wants. For all I know, London may be the obvious choice as his successor.

But if you're sneaky (er, calculated) on the way out of office, were you calculated the whole time you were in office?

Ron Lewis doesn't deserve a black eye for his years of service. He got a lot of votes through the years and a lot of people have benefited from his hard work.

Whether he intended for it to look the way it does, I don't know. London's candidacy may suffer a bit too from the perception.

Maybe they should have calculated that.