Farmer not ruling out gubernatorial bid

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer
hasn't taken his eyes off a possible run for governor next year as
the former Kentucky basketball star mulls his political options,
which could include being the running mate for another prominent
Republican.
Farmer said Thursday he expects to be on the statewide ballot in
2011, but told reporters that he's still pondering which job to
seek - governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state or another
statewide office.
He said he was leaning toward one of the top spots, refusing to
rule out a bid for governor.
"Kentucky needs strong leadership," he said before the
Kentucky Farm Bureau's country ham breakfast at the state fair.
"We're in a situation that we need to get some things done. And I
think I have the ability to do those things."
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has already raised $2.6 million in
gearing up to run for a second term. Beshear is running with Jerry
Abramson, the longtime mayor in Louisville, the state's largest
city.
Beshear, who has presided over Kentucky amid the deep economic
downturn that has forced a series of painful state budget cuts,
sounded confident about his chances against any Republican ticket.
"I feel comfortable that no matter who the ticket is on the
other side, that Jerry Abramson and I will be able to not only
defend what I've been doing for the last three years in helping
Kentucky get through this economy, but also our vision for what the
future looks like," he said after the ham breakfast.
On the Republican side, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett has
already announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination, with
state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville as his running mate.
Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith has announced he will run
for governor as an independent candidate with political strategist
Dea Riley as his running mate. Demolition contractor Otis Hensley
of Harlan has indicated he would run in the Democratic primary
against Beshear.
Whatever Farmer decides, the second-term agriculture
commissioner would draw upon his considerable name recognition from
his days as a basketball standout at the University of Kentucky.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has spoken with
Farmer about forming a ticket to run for governor and lieutenant
governor. Both said they'll reveal their decisions soon.
"Commissioner Farmer and I are in constant communication with
each other, and I'm very confident that we'll reach the right
decision," Williams told reporters at the ham breakfast.
Williams added that he and Farmer "share a common view about
what's good for the future of Kentucky."
Farmer said he respects Williams' intellect and knowledge of
state government.
He said there could be advantages to running for the No. 2 slot
on a ticket.
"If it were in the right situation, I could be involved and
possibly learn more about state government," Farmer said. "I
didn't grow up dreaming of being a politician and being involved in
politics. As a matter of fact, it's the one thing I swore I'd never
do."
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday that Farmer has
spent about $445,000 from state and federal funds on 19 new
vehicles for his department this year, including a $35,340 Chevy
Suburban for his own use.
Farmer said his department tries to manage its fleet cost
effectively.
His spokesman, Bill Clary, told the Lexington newspaper that
Farmer drove his previous state vehicle for 30 months, so he was
due for a replacement in January.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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