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Senate Race Extends To Basketball

October 31, 1998

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ The fierce basketball rivalry between the universities of Kentucky and Louisville has moved off the court and into the state’s Senate race.

Louisville coach Denny Crum is on the radio in commercials touting the record of his longtime friend, Republican Rep. Jim Bunning.

And former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, now coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, has endorsed Democrat Rep. Scotty Baesler, a onetime Wildcat player.

``It puts a little juice in the race,″ Baesler said Friday after Pitino offered his help.

Baesler and Bunning are waging a neck-and-neck contest for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Wendell Ford.

It’s not the first political run-in for Pitino and Bunning, a former major-league baseball pitcher.

In 1996, after Pitino appeared at a rally with President Clinton the day before Clinton’s re-election, Bunning accused Pitino of costing Republicans the election in Kentucky by giving the president UK basketball’s ``cloak of respectability.″

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