Democrats Begin Announcing Plans For Governor's Race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Two top Kentucky Democrats declared Tuesday they would not challenge Gov. Ernie Fletcher in next year's governor's race, leaving the party without a named opponent to the incumbent.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and State Auditor Crit Luallen both took their names out of contention as candidates in the 2007 governor's race. Both had been considering a run atop the Democratic slate against Fletcher, a Republican, who has been politically weakened by a lengthy hiring investigation. Abramson, who was re-elected last week for another term as mayor of the state's largest city, said Tuesday that he wants to stay in Louisville.

"This is where I want to be," Abramson said. "My burning desire in my gut is to be mayor of my own town."

Abramson, 60, said several supporters urged him to run for governor while he was campaigning for mayor. Ready to begin his fifth term as mayor, Abramson was considered a strong candidate for the state's top office because of his popularity and fundraising prowess.

He declined to say whom he would support in next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)