Springer Web site to gauge support for Senate race

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Television talk show host Jerry Springer started a Web site Wednesday to test voter support for a possible U.S. Senate campaign.
Springer T-shirts, autographed photographs of the talk show host and compact discs featuring him playing a guitar and singing country songs will be sold on the Web site, Springer political adviser Mike Ford said.
Springer (pictured, above) wants to reach people who don't normally vote and who would be willing to make small contributions on his behalf, Ford said at a news conference Tuesday at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters. The response to the www.runjerryrun.com Web site will help Springer decide whether to run, Ford said.
"A lot of people are left out of the political system and they're not supposed to be," he said. "We're going to activate them."
Springer has traveled the state for several months to determine if he will become a candidate for the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Ohio. State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, D-Shaker Heights, who has already announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat, criticized Springer's Web site.
"It's a cynical attempt to somehow manufacture support," Fingerhut said.
Fingerhut said that it is clear to him that Springer has decided to run, whether he says so or not. Ford insisted that Springer, 59, has not made a decision.
The Democratic candidate will take on incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, who is not expected to have serious competition.
Springer resigned from the Cincinnati City Council in 1974 after admitting in federal court that he wrote personal checks to pay prostitutes. He later was elected mayor and lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1982.
Springer then worked as a TV news anchor and commentator before becoming a national talk show host with guests who flaunt sex secrets and anti-social behavior.
Springer, who will decide by July 31 whether to be a candidate, legally can transfer any money raised on the Web site to a campaign fund if he officially enters the race, Ford said.
Ohio GOP Chairman Robert T. Bennett said the party will check the legality of Springer's Web site as a potential conduit for campaign cash, but he said he knows of no law prohibiting it.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)