Farmer: Running for governor 'very real possibility'

06/07/2010 11:20 AM

Gov. Steve Beshear and Richie Farmer, the Kentucky commissioner of agriculture

(UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS) LEXINGTON – Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer on Monday amplified his interest in running for governor in 2011 saying it is “a very real possibility.”

Farmer, a Republican and a former University of Kentucky basketball player, was asked about it after standing next to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear at a bill signing at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“Well (I) don’t know for sure yet but that certainly is a very real possibility,” he said.

Farmer had expressed some interest before but was slightly more candid about his considerations on Monday.

He said he hopes to decide his plans for 2011 by “late summer or early fall.”

Farmer said he has yet to engage in any serious conversations with potential running mates or whether he would be a lieutenant governor candidate on another Republican’s ticket. He said he had “not many any of those determinations” about which Republican he’d like to run with as either a candidate for governor or lieutenant governor. Kentucky law requires gubernatorial slates to form before raising campaign funds.

“There’s a lot of talk about this or that. But I guess the main thing I’m concerned with doing right now is making sure it’s the right thing for my family,” said Farmer who has three boys, ages 13, 11 and 8, with his wife, Rebecca. “I think my first duty is to them, so I’ve got to make sure that it’s the right thing for us first.”

The demands of the campaign trail, as well as of the office, are key considerations, he said.

“Obviously, a run for governor is a huge time commitment and it’s something that you have to be dedicated to,” he said.

Farmer said he hadn’t ruled out other options, such as running for Secretary of State. He is term-limited as agriculture commissioner.

“They say it’s good to have all those opportunities available,” he said.

He said Republican leaders haven’t yet urged him to take any particular direction. “Nobody has really tried to instruct me on anything I need to do at this point,” Farmer said.

When asked why he was interested in running for governor, Farmer said he believes Kentucky need someone who can serve as a referee between the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House.

“With the economy in the situation it is and Kentucky just hurting —  there’s a lot of people without jobs and things — I think it’s important now more than ever that we have a leader that can bring the Senate and the House together to do the right things to move Kentucky forward, and having the opportunity to do that,” he said.

But Farmer declined to criticize Beshear. “It certainly is something that whoever — either him or somebody that runs against him, a new governor — would have the ability to undertake.” (Greg Stotelmyer at WTVQ-Channel 36 has the video).

Farmer and Beshear talked with each other before and after the bill signing of House Bill 398, a first-of-its-kind legislation creating statewide standards and oversight for livestock and animal treatment, in front of the statue of Man o’ War at the Horse Park.

cn|2 Politics caught up with Beshear before Farmer made the comments about potentially running for governor. Beshear said he, too, has been frustrated by legislative gridlock. Most recently, the General Assembly failed to pass a state budget by the April 15 deadline of the end of the regular session, prompting Beshear to call them back into special session last month.

“Obviously, they didn’t get the job done during the regular session. It’s now happened three or four times in the last 10-12 years, and I hope that we learn something from this experience and that is that we need to work together more and come together more on major issues like the budget,” Beshear said.

- Ryan Alessi


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