Lewis bows out of House race

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Minutes before the filing deadline on Tuesday, U. S. Rep. Ron Lewis withdrew from the race to represent Shelby County and the rest of the second Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lewis withdrew just seconds after his chief of staff, Daniel London, entered the race.

According to the Secretary of State's office, moments before 4 p.m. London's wife filed her husband's nomination papers, seconds later she filed Lewis withdraw.

Some have criticized Lewis for trying to set up London to win the nomination.

Until Tuesday, Lewis was the only Republican candidate. However, at the last minute, Republican state Sen. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green also filed for the seat.

In a press release, Lewis said he is stepping down from the office in order to spend more time with his family.

"I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and catching up on the things I have missed over the years."

Lewis, who has represented the district for 14 years, first won the house seat in 1994 in a special election after the death of Democratic Rep. William Natcher.

In the release he said he was glad to have served Kentucky.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to represent Kentucky's Second Congressional District throughout the past 14 years. I am proud of the many successes we have had."

London, who has been Lewis' chief of staff for four years, said he and Lewis did nothing underhanded in Tuesday's filling.

"I'll be first to admit that it looks like a rigged deal, but that just isn't the case," he said.

He said he actually tried to talk Lewis out of quitting the race.

"I guess my convincing skills weren't what they needed to be," he said.

Shelby County Republican Chairman Charles G. Bates said that during a conversation with Lewis last fall, he had the sense that the congressman was getting tired of constantly traveling from Kentucky to Washington.

"I think that the wear and tear of that has begun to wear his family out," he said.

Bates also said the congressman's decision could be in light of his father's illness.

Bates did not speculate concerning the timing of Lewis' withdrawal. However, he did say that any advantage would help.

"If I was trying to get somebody an advantage I would give him every advantage I could," he said

On the Democrat side of the ticket, state Sen. David Boswell and Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire have filed for the Democratic nomination and will face each other in a primary this May.

Bates said he has confidence is both London and Guthrie, but expects that whoever gets the nomination is in for a fight for the Congressional seat.

"To beat Boswell will be a real chore," Bates said.

Nathan Riggs, Shelby County Democratic chairman, said Lewis' move may be divisive for Republicans.

"If you were a Republican in the district, how mad would you be about this?" he said.