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C-SPAN video of the Oct. 11 debate and the Oct. 4 debate (RealVideo required)

Kentucky Senate

Filing Deadline: Jan. 27
Primary: May 26

Nov. 4, 1998 — Democrats lost a key Senate seat when Republican Rep. Jim Bunning defeated Democratic Rep. Scotty Baesler, winning the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Wendell H. Ford. Bunning defeated Baesler 50 percent to 49 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Debates: Personal attacks and Social Security dominated the televised debates. Bunning initially supported using all of this year's federal budget surplus to shore up Social Security, but he eventually voted for the GOP plan to use 90 percent for Social Security and 10 percent to fund tax-cuts. Baesler supported the 100-percent plan.

Advertising: Bunning and the state GOP attacked Baesler in several ads, saying he didn't support family values, voted against tax cuts and refused to support programs for the elderly. But the most memorable Bunning ad featured an angry Baesler and ominous music by Richard Wagner, Hitler's favorite composer. Bunning denied that the ad was intended to portray Baesler as a fascist.

Baesler said in several spots that he was "fighting so hard to make sure our equal pay laws are enforced" for women. His October TV ads also emphasized health care, education and crime.

Fund-Raising: Baesler collected nearly $1 million between July 1 and the end of September, but Bunning – with $1.5 million – still had about three times as much money on hand. Baesler reported about $557,000 in the bank.

Polls: Poll after poll released in the last two weeks of October had the candidates in a statistical tie. A Bluegrass State Poll conducted by the Louisville Courier-Journal in late October showed Baesler with 44 percent and Bunning with 43 percent, with 13 percent of respondents undecided. A Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT survey conducted in the middle of the month showed Baesler with 44 percent and Bunning with 39 percent, outside the 3.5 percent margin of error.

— Ryan Thornburg,

Ryan Thornburg can be reached at

© Copyright 1998 Digital Ink Company

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