By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press Writer
PROSPECT, Ky. (AP) - Political newcomer Michael Cassaro on Tuesday announced his plans to seek the U.S. Senate seat held by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Cassaro is the first Democrat to declare intentions of running in next year's race to represent Kentucky in the U.S. Senate. Cassaro, 51, is a Louisville-area doctor who is making his first run for political office.
"I owe no political favors to anybody," Cassaro said.
The 2008 election is still nearly a year away, yet the race is already gearing up. McConnell is running for re-election and has been running television commercials for nearly a week. The ads compare McConnell to Alben Barkley, a Kentucky Democrat who was Senate majority leader and Harry Truman's vice president.
Cassaro was joined by family members and a handful of supporters in making the announcement in Prospect. Cassaro said his campaign headquarters right now is a spare bedroom at his father's house.
Cassaro, who treats patients suffering from chronic pain, said if elected he would bring medical expertise to the health-care debate in Washington.
"I think I can bring the insight necessary to the Congress to help turn the tide so we quit taking short-term approaches to the long-term problem," Cassaro said.
Cassaro also talked about providing tax relief to young married couples and cracking down on illegal immigration.
Several better known Democrats are considering a Senate run next year including Attorney General Greg Stumbo, state Auditor Crit Luallen, Iraq war veteran Andrew Horne and Louisville businessman Charlie Owen.
Whoever challenges McConnell will have a lot of catching up to do in fundraising. McConnell, who is in his fourth term, had raised more than $9 million through September and had nearly $7 million on hand.
During the 2003 election, Cassaro gave political donations to both Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Ben Chandler. Cassaro also gave to attorney general candidates then-independent Gatewood Galbraith, Republican Jack Wood and Stumbo, a Democrat who is leaving the office at the end of this year.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)