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Ky. Atty. General Candidates Have Baggage

Tue Sep 23 2003
By CHARLES WOLFE, Associated Press Writer

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Apparently you don't have to be a Boy Scout to run for Kentucky's top law enforcement job. The race for attorney general pits a state lawmaker being sued for child support against a one-time judge twice disciplined on the bench and an independent who says he is "anti-drug" yet regularly smokes marijuana.

Some prosecutors consider it a less-than-ideal field.

"I have the same concerns that other citizens would have," said Allen Trimble, commonwealth's attorney for Whitley and McCreary counties. "We expect our attorneys general to kind of take the moral high plain. If they fall from that, it kind of hurts them."

The Democrat in the race is Rep. Greg Stumbo, majority leader of the Kentucky House who likes to talk about how he would fight drug crimes if elected.

His Republican opponent, Jack Wood, insists on talking about something else a lawsuit filed against Stumbo by a woman with whom he fathered a child during an affair. The lawsuit seeks $43,000 in back child support.

Wood pours it on when he gets Stumbo in front of an audience.

Last month, at a stump-speaking picnic in western Kentucky, some in the audience taunted Stumbo with placards bearing slogans such as "Greg, will you take a DNA test?" and "Greg are you my dad?"

When Wood got his turn at the microphone, he recounted his experience pursuing child-support cases as an assistant prosecutor in Louisville. Turning to Stumbo, Wood said: "Does that give you nightmares at night, Greg?"

Stumbo, whose son was born in 1988, said he has made support payments since 2002, when a DNA test confirmed he was the father. He said the lawsuit should not be an issue, though the attorney general is chairman of a state commission that oversees collection of child support statewide.

While opponents raised the issue in the Democratic primary, Stumbo won a three-way race with 36 percent of the vote. No independent polls have been conducted for the general election, to be held Nov. 4.

A one-time district court judge in rural southern Kentucky, Wood twice was disciplined for allegedly deceptive election advertising in the early 1980s. He also feuded publicly with his court clerk and a former law partner.

"If I had a record like Jack Wood, I'd be ashamed," Stumbo said.

Wood said Stumbo's flaws are worse: "If you take his dirt and throw it on the wall, and you throw mine, and you take a pressure washer, his stays up there and mine goes to the floor."

Gatewood Galbraith, the independent, has run three times for governor and twice for Congress as a Democrat, Reform Party member or independent. He first gained political attention by advocating legalization of marijuana.

He now advocates marijuana only for medical use and claims to have a marijuana prescription from a California doctor to ease asthma and emphysema.