Abramson says he wants to focus on education and won't run for governor in 2015

08/06/2013 11:53 AM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) ELIZABETHTOWN — Democratic Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson said Tuesday he won’t run for governor in 2015 because he wants to pour his efforts into improving Kentucky schools and preparing the next generation for jobs.

“The next chapter in my life, I want to focus on just the issue of education,” he said, although he did not say specifically how he planned to do that once he leaves the lieutenant governor’s office in December 2015.

Abramson made the announcement at the Elizabethtown Rotary Club in front of several dozen Rotarians and almost as many reporters from across the state.

He said the decision had nothing to do with his wife’s health. Madeline Abramson was recently treated for breast cancer.

“This has nothing to do with my wife’s diagnosis of breast cancer,” Abramson said. “She did not need chemo. She’s in great shape. That’s not the issue.”

He told reporters later that it was a “difficult decision” and didn’t know yet what he would do to promote education once he leaves the lieutenant governor’s office.

In his remarks, Abramson lamented the state budget cuts since 2008 that have frozen money for K-12, resulted in tuition increases and have sent no money to schools for textbooks.

Abramson spent 2012 leading a series of meetings for the governor’s tax reform task force. He said Tuesday’s speech was the 60th he had given in which he mentioned the cuts that have caused a set-back for education.

He also talked about his entrance into public life and the focus he has sought to maintain on improving education as a driver of economic development.

“The core that tied everything together was the education of the men and women who were working together,” he said. “The critical element of every measure of progress in a community … is the ability to develop a skilled, educated and productive workforce.”

And he said that community leaders have that responsibility to maintain that focus whether they are in politics or not.

“You don’t have to be an elected official to make a difference,” he told the Rotary Club.

Abramson has been saying for the last month that he planned to make his announcement around the Fancy Farm picnic, which was Saturday. Abramson didn’t attend because of a family event, stoking speculation that he wouldn’t run. Abramson told Pure Politics last week that he wasn’t courting a running mate yet and would make his decision to run independent of whether he could match up with a slate mate.

Democrats considering the race include Auditor Adam Edelen, the former state auditor Crit Luallen, Attorney General Jack Conway and former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo.

Edelen, in an interview Tuesday, praised Abramson’s time in public service.

Among the Republicans who are looking at running are Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Louisville businessman Hal Heiner, who lost the 2010 mayor’s race in Louisville, and Phil Moffett, who lost the GOP nomination for governor in 2011.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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