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SMC alumnae runs for fifth straight term

Megan O'Neil | Monday, November 1, 2004

While the presidential candidates travel around the country straining for every last vote, Saint Mary’s alumnae Anne Northup looks poised to win her fifth consecutive term as congressional representative to Kentucky’s 3rd district.

A recent poll conducted by the Louisville Courier-Journal showed Northup led with 57 percent of the vote, 17 points ahead of her Democratic challenger, Tony Miller. According to the latest spending reports Northup also topped her opponent in fundraising by over a million dollars.

If she wins on Tuesday, the Republican congresswoman will once again be representing a district in which registered Democrats out-number Republicans two to one.

Campaign Manager Patrick Neely said it is affirming to be ahead in the pre-election poles but the Republican camp will continue to campaign aggressively in the final days.

“All the polls in the world can’t say who is going to win. We are working very hard,” Neely said.

Few of Northup’s election drives have been as smooth at this year’s, however. In her first bid in 1996 Northup faced a fierce battle with Democratic incumbent Mike Ward. Her eventual win, by 1,399 votes, made her the first Kentucky woman elected to serve in Congress since 1926.

In 2002 Northup was once again threatened by a strong democratic candidate, Jack Conway. The race drew national attention and President Bush traveled to Louisville to energize her campaign and ensure Republican control of the House.

Northup’s successes have earned her the reputation of a tough competitor and the respect of even her opponents. One such former opponent, Chris Gorman, publicly endorsed the congresswoman in this year’s reelection bid.

The Louisville Courier-Journal also endorsed her for the first time.

“I think she has run five very strong campaigns,” Neely said.

According to Neely, Northup had to be a hard-hitting campaigner.

“It’s a competitive district and she has had a couple of high caliber opponents,” Neely said.

The second of 11 children, Northup came from a long line of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s graduates. Her father, James Meagher was a scholarship basketball player for the Irish and her mother attended Saint Mary’s.

Northup graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1970 with degrees in Economics and Business. She worked as a math teacher and at Ford Motor Company before running for the state legislature in 1987. Northup served as the 32nd District’s representative for nine years.

In a state economically dependent on tobacco farming, Northup took a risky political step to set herself apart from fellow state representatives by calling attention to the health risks of cigarettes and by attacking teen smoking.

Economic issues continue to be some of the most pressing for Northup as a congresswoman. Her opponent has argued that the 3rd District has lost 13,900 jobs on her watch and that the region has the fewest manufacturing jobs in over a decade.

Neely admitted that the statistics are correct, but said the tax cut package, which she championed in 2002, has already helped to create thousands of new jobs.

Notre Dame freshman Marian Eldridge lives in Kentucky’s 3rd District and described Northup as “extremely” popular.

“She has brought a lot of money to the district,” Eldridge said, “and she has a lot of sway in Congress. A lot of people don’t want to vote her out office because of the sway that she has.”

Freshman Susan Dee attended the same high school as Northup and has met her several times. Dee expects her to be re-elected on Tuesday.

“I watched one of the debates on TV and she was by far the best candidate,” said Dee. “She seems just really together.”