Kentucky: Third District|
Rep. Anne Northup (R)
Last Updated July 10, 2003
At the falls of the Ohio River, Americans more than 200 years ago founded one of their first inland metropolises, the river port and industrial city of Louisville (pronounced LOOuhv'l). The city has always retained an air of the South; when Kentucky decided not to secede in 1861, the decision was not unanimous, and the culture of tidewater Virginia is still visible in the Louisville lawn party. Steamboats are tied up in front of Louisville's downtown, primed to follow the channel around the falls of the Ohio that prompted George Rogers Clark to found the town in 1778. Mint juleps are served on the verandas of mansions, especially (but not only) during Kentucky Derby week in May; horse racing is a preoccupation throughout the year. Although the Ohio River is crossed with many bridges and the accent across the river in Indiana may sound the same to outsiders, Louisville partakes of the cavalier culture that second sons of big landowners from England brought to Virginia in the 17th century and their heirs brought over the Appalachians to the valleys of Kentucky in the 18th century.
Louisville is Kentucky's largest city by far, though in the 2000 Census it was ranked number two, behind Lexington, which includes all of Fayette County. One of the arguments that persuaded voters in November 2000 by a 54%-46% margin to consolidate the city and surrounding Jefferson County is that it would make Louisville number one again; the merger took effect in January 2003. Louisville has not been growing as rapidly as many other Southern and Midwestern cities. Its economy is in many ways pre-postindustrial: It produces cigarettes and whiskey, large appliances and automobiles. But it is also the headquarters of Humana health services and has a new medical services center going up downtown, as well as the Muhammad Ali Center and the Owsley Brown Frazier Historical Arms Museum. After the consolidation vote, local worthies commissioned a study by the Brookings Institution, which warned of the dangers of sprawl and the need to beef up Louisville's historic downtown. But Louisville, with less growth than other metro areas, is not about to become another Atlanta, unless high tax rates or poor schools in Louisville-Jefferson County drive young families into still sparsely-settled outer counties in Kentucky or Indiana, just as a school busing decision led to Jefferson County's losing population in the 1970s. Louisville has not yet attracted large numbers of immigrants, but has an interesting variety--Vietnamese, Cubans, Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Mexicans.
The 3d Congressional District includes all but a dozen or so precincts of Louisville-Jefferson County. There is a large black population on the west side of Louisville and just south of the old city limits and a lower-income white population along the strip highway that leads to Fort Knox. The suburbs to the east tend to be affluent; little elite neighborhoods--Mockingbird Valley, Glenview, Ten Broeck--incorporated long ago to avoid being annexed by the city. Louisville has long been an odd duck in Kentucky politics. If its elite were Virginia cavaliers, many of its burghers were Germans and Pennsylvanians who made this river town a Republican and anti-slavery island in a secessionist and pro-slavery sea. That tradition helps explain why Republican Mitch McConnell was able to get elected Jefferson County judge-executive in the 1970s and 1980s when the state was electing Democrats to most other offices. In the 1990s Louisville, like so many bigger metro areas, trended toward the Democrats, even as the rest of Kentucky trended Republican. The 3d District voted for Al Gore in 2000, while the state's other five districts all voted for George W. Bush.
The congresswoman from the 3d District is Anne Northup. She grew up in a large Catholic family in Louisville--she has nine sisters and one brother--and has raised six children of her own. Her husband is a small business owner; she volunteered and served on the boards of many charities and associations. She was elected to the Kentucky House in a 1987 special election, where she became the number one critic of tobacco in the capital of the nation's number two tobacco state.
In 1996 she decided to run for Congress, against freshman Democrat Mike Ward, an ''old Democrat'' who won the seat by 425 votes in 1994, when 12% voted for an anti-abortion third candidate. In a year when almost all Democrats and most Republicans ran cookie-cutter campaigns, Northup showed originality in strategy and tactics. First, she outraised the incumbent, with an amazing $868,000 coming from individuals; she spent $1,182,000 to Ward's $880,000. Second, she started TV spots in August--three weeks before Ward got on the air. Third, she used unusual issues, such as Ward's vote against making English the official language. Both candidates opposed FDA regulation of tobacco, but her criticisms of tobacco companies moderated her image. Ward ran behind his party ticket and Northup won 50.3%-49.7%, a margin of 1,299 votes.
In Washington, Northup was singled out by the leadership and was one of two Republican freshmen to get a seat on Appropriations. Her voting record is somewhat moderate on economic and foreign issues and conservative on cultural issues. When the Lewinsky scandal broke, Northup appeared on Meet the Press and criticized feminists for their silence on Clinton's behavior. She opposes abortion and claims the district is "more pro-life than pro-choice." She joined most Democrats in supporting the 72-hour check for sales at gun shows. She strongly supported the Republican version of HMO regulation.
Despite her votes against spending generally, Northup has used her seat on Appropriations to bring in what she estimated in 2000 as "approaching $500 million" into her district--a "fair share" she called it. In 2001 she got $25.8 million in earmarked projects. She earmarked $3 million in projects for St. Stephen Baptist Church and New Canaan Baptist Church. In 2000 she set up a group called Louisville Neighborhood Initiative and earmarked $2 million in 2001 and $3 million in 2002 for it, to be distributed by the organization. LNI, on whose board she served, decided to give $600,000 to Cable Missionary Baptist Church for a family center, $350,000 to Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church to build a neighborhood center and $200,000 to Catholic Charities for senior citizens' housing. In February 2002 the ACLU sued LNI for limiting its grants to faith-based organizations. LNI dropped that limitation in April. Common Cause charged that by steering money to an organization she was connected with, Northup violated House ethics rules. Northup said she had gotten oral clearance from the ethics committee, but in May 2002 stopped LNI disbursal of grants and went back to earmarking to specific organizations. Democrats charged that Northup was seeking favorable political treatment from black ministers and their congregations. Her response: "From the first day I was elected, I have tried to help the disadvantaged and the most distressed areas of my community. I know where to put money if I want political benefit from it. I know where the swing neighborhoods are. It is not the West End."
Northup's biggest project in dollar terms is the building of two new bridges over the Ohio River, one downtown which would also replace the "spaghetti junction" intersection of Interstates 64, 65 and 71, and one in eastern Jefferson County. At $2 billion, this is the second biggest pending highway project in the nation, after metro Washington's Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and she worked with Indiana Democrat Baron Hill to promote it over several years. She favored building both bridges at the same time, lest the eastern bridge be delayed indefinitely, and DOT prioritized the project for accelerated environmental review in October 2002. On another issue, Northup journeyed to China in January 2002 to try to get the Chinese to lift their limit on the number of Chinese babies that can be adopted by Americans. In August 2001 she complained about the separate, and in her view unequal, gym that the House has for women members.
The 3d District has been seriously contested in every election since 1992. In 1998, former Attorney General and County Commissioner Chris Gorman challenged Northup. Gorman attacked Northup for voting with Newt Gingrich 95% of the time and attacked her vote for the Republican version of HMO regulation. Northup once again showed her fundraising prowess: She raised over $1.6 million, almost three times as much as Gorman. She won 52%-48%. In 2000 Northup was opposed by state Representative Eleanor Jordan, from the heavily black West End of Louisville. Northup campaigned on her "balanced approach" and the projects she had won for the district, but also capitalized deftly on Jordan's mistakes. She ran an ad showing Jordan in Frankfort urging colleagues to finish action quickly because "I have a fundraiser at six o'clock and I want to get out of here." This was a very big-spending race, targeted by both sides. Northup, outdoing previous efforts, spent $2.9 million. Jordan, with help from EMILY's List and other liberal supporters, raised and spent $1.7 million. Northup won 53%-44%, her biggest victory yet.
In 2002 Northup's opponent was Jack Conway, 33, Deputy Cabinet Secretary to Governor Paul Patton. He was her first opponent who had no legislative record she could attack. She had an additional embarrassment: In June 2002 she had sent a letter to the FCC inquiring about the treatment of her husband's company's application for a license to sell radios; she said she didn't know her office sent the letter. This was another race with prodigious fundraising. Northup spent $3.2 million, raising $1.8 million from individuals and $1 million from PACs. Conway, with much help from Patton (who called him "the closest thing I've seen in Kentucky to Jack Kennedy"), raised $508,000 by the end of 2001, more than any other Democrat challenging a Republican incumbent, and $1.5 million in all. Conway's theme was that Northup was more conservative than voters thought: "Anne Northup says one thing in Louisville and votes another way in Washington."
Northup called Conway a state bureaucrat "who has never held a private sector job," and said, "This is no time for fast-talking, inexperienced approaches to the challenges that face this country." They differed on the Ohio River bridges. Conway favored building the downtown bridge first, and also a $551 million light rail system from downtown to the airport and the Gene Snyder Freeway. Northup declined to endorse the light rail and said she feared that if an eastern bridge wasn't built immediately it might never be. Her position was backed up by two trips to Louisville in the last six weeks of the campaign by Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters. Conway was hurt when, in September 2002, Patton admitted to having an affair with a nursing home operator who sued, claiming he had state inspectors close down her business after she broke off the affair. Patton's job rating in Jefferson County dropped sharply, and Patton withdrew from politicking; Democrats said he otherwise would have raised another $100,000 for Conway. In debate Conway declined to renounce him: "I'm disappointed, deeply. But he's my friend, and I am not gonna pull an Al Gore, and I am not the type of person who runs away from their friends when times are tough."
Northup won 52%-48%, with a 7,382-vote margin. Northup got 20% of the vote in heavily black legislative districts, which suggests that she may have won the 28% of the black vote shown in the final Courier-Journal poll. If so, that is one of the best performances among blacks by a Republican anywhere in the country in a seriously contested race. Conway's strong performance led some Democrats to urge him to run again in 2004.
Northup has lost or dropped bids for Republican leadership positions--for vice chairman of the Republican Conference in November 1998 and April 2000, for Conference secretary in November 2000. But in December 2002 she took the lead by being the first House Republican to criticize Trent Lott for his comments on Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday.
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|Group Ratings (More Info)|
|National Journal Ratings
For National Journal's complete 2002 Vote Ratings, as well as previous ratings dating back to 1995, please click here.|
Key Votes Of The 107th Congress
|1. Approve Bush Tax Cuts
|2. Limit Patients' Bill of Rights
|3. Campaign Finance Reform
|4. Ban ANWR Development
|5. Faith-Based Charities
|6. Bar Gays in the Boy Scouts
| 7. Ban Partial-Birth Abortion
| 8. Arm Commercial Pilots
| 9. Trade Promotion Authority
|10. Bar Funds for Intl. Court
|11. Authorize Force in Iraq
|12. Deny Home. Sec. Dept. Union
||Anne Northup (R)
|Jack Conway (D)
||Anne Northup (R)
||Anne Northup (R)
|Eleanor Jordan (D)
Prior winning percentages:
1998 (52%); 1996 (50%)
For 1992 and 1996 presidential results in the Third District, please see the Almanac 2000 online. Please note that these older returns reflect district lines as they existed prior to 2002 redistricting.
- Cook Partisan Voting Index: D + 1
- District Size: 379 square miles
- Population in 2000: 674,032; 98.3% urban; 1.7% rural
- Median Household Income: $39,468; 12.4% are below the poverty line
- Occupation: 23.7% blue collar; 62.0% white collar; 14.3% gray collar; 13.7% military veterans
- Race/Ethnic Origin:
0.2% Amer. Indian,
1.3% Two+ races,
1.8% Hispanic origin
- Click here for statewide demographic data.
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