Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson resigns; Governor appoints successor

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson is resigning after President Barack Obama announced he's appointing Abramson as his liaison to state and local governments.

Abramson's resignation will be effective November 13.

Abramson will help state and local governments manage policy issues and challenges, such as infrastructure, natural disasters and public health.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me and for our administration. Jerry and I have been friends for more than 30 years, and I chose him as my Lieutenant Governor because I knew that his extensive experience as longtime mayor of Louisville, his contagious enthusiasm and his knack for building momentum around new ideas would make him a great partner in leading our state,” said Gov. Beshear. “But the White House noticed all those skills, too, and realized that he will take those same gifts and put them to work on our nation’s domestic agenda. He will be an outstanding addition to the President’s administration, and we will miss him terribly.”

In announcing the move, Gov. Steve Beshear appointed former state Auditor Crit Luallen to lieutenant governor. In April, Luallen announced she will not run for governor in 2015.

“Crit is a well-known and beloved public servant, respected by members of both parties for her resolute pursuit of clean, ethical government,” said Gov. Beshear.

“She was my first and only choice to serve as the new Lieutenant Governor, and I know Kentuckians will be confident that she is more than up to the task," Gov. Beshear said. "I’m glad she agreed to return to state government, and I’m certain she will bring that same tenacity and grit to the Lt. Governor’s office.”

Luallen has also served in the past as state budget director, secretary of the Governor's Executive Cabinet, secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet and secretary of the Tourism Cabinet.

Luallen worked for six Kentucky Governors before serving two terms as auditor. In 2001, she received the National Excellence in Leadership Award by Women Executives in State Government. In 2009, 'Governing' magazine named her Public Official of the Year for her positive impact on Kentucky.

“It is a high honor to stand here today in partnership with this Governor,” said Luallen. “Serving as Lieutenant Governor gives me an opportunity to continue to serve Kentucky and offer my experience and perspective to Gov. Beshear and the fine team he has assembled. It will be my personal goal to help the Governor end his term in office with the state in as strong a position as possible to face the challenges the future holds.”

“Crit Luallen has served state government in a variety of ways over the years, so she certainly will bring a wealth of information to the administration. I wish her the best as she takes on this responsibility,” said Speaker Greg Stumbo.

“I have great respect for Crit Luallen,” said Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers. “She and I have always worked well together, professionally and personally, and I look forward to that relationship continuing with Lt. Gov. Luallen. On behalf of the Kentucky Senate, we would like to wish Jerry Abramson the best in his new role in the Obama administration.”

Luallen will be sworn-in during a private ceremony at 5 p.m. November 13, the moment Abramson's resignation becomes effective.

A public swearing-in is scheduled for November 14 at 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.

Abramson is known as Louisville's "Mayor for Life" after serving 21 years - the longest tenure in the city's history.

Gov. Steve Beshear chose Abramson as his running mate when running for re-election in 2011.

As Lt. Governor, Abramson served as chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, launched a statewide version of a program he created while mayor of Louisville to help high school students apply to college, and chaired the kyhealthnow initiative.

One of Abramson's duties will be to help coordinate with states on the upcoming second open enrollment under Obama's health care law.

Abramson brings unique experience as chair of Kentucky's health care initiative. Kentucky was an Obamacare success story, with more than 400,000 people signing up under the state's health insurance exchange.

“The challenges that face America’s local communities – such as workforce training, education, infrastructure investment, shrinking budgets, affordable housing, public transportation, and emergency response – are the issues that I’ve worked on for more than 30 years in local and state government. I’m honored to be in a position to help this country’s mayors, county executives, governors and other local officials tackle these issues and work to find innovative solutions,” said Lt. Gov. Abramson. “I’m grateful to Gov. Beshear for bringing me on board three years ago, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to bring jobs to our state and to strengthen Kentucky families. My experience in the Kentucky Capitol will be vital as I step into my new role.”

In August 2013, Abramson who is one of the state's top Democrats took himself out of contention for governor, announcing two years early that he won't run.

Abramson made the announcement just days after his wife, Madeline, told reporters that she's recovering from breast cancer.

The Louisville Democrat was considered one of the strongest contenders to replace term-limited Gov. Steve Beshear in 2015.

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