GOP Rep. Jamie Comer to run for Agriculture Commissioner in '11

10/26/2010 06:31 PM

Republican state Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville told cn|2 Politics Tuesday that he will seek the GOP nomination for agriculture commissioner next year.

Comer said he will file his candidacy papers and formally announce his campaign structure featuring a “broad array” of Republican and agriculture leaders between Nov. 10 and 15.

Comer, 38, has represented the 53rd House district covering Cumberland, Green, Metcalfe and Monroe counties since 2001. A beef cattle farmer, Comer has purchased four farms over the years totaling 950 acres.

“I didn’t inherit that. I borrowed the money to start and bought those farms,” he said. He also manages timber on those acres. And he shares another 1,150-acre farming operation with his family.

“I am experienced, and I can honestly say with all the people who have expressed interest in the race, I will be the most experienced candidate even though I’ll be the youngest,” Comer said.

Among those who have filed their paperwork to begin raising money for the office are Republican Rob Rothenburger — the Shelby County judge-executive who is a paramedic and farmer — and Democrats B.D. Wilson — the former Montgomery County judge-executive, Robert Farmer and Stewart Gritton.

The overarching theme of Comer’s campaign will be to make agriculture the focus of economic development in rural Kentucky.

“I think we can revitalize the rural economies” that have been decimated over the past three decades by shuttered manufacturing facilities.

Comer outlined several key platforms:

  • Help Kentucky tap the potential of woodlands and forest products
  • Increase renewable energy production by encouraging timber waste products — branches stripped off trees used for logging, for instance — to be converted into biofuels.
  • Continue to expand the “Kentucky Proud” program, which highlights food produced by Kentucky farmers. The program was a key development under current Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.
  • Make the $29 million Agriculture Department budget transparent, similar to the online transparency effort started by Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller.

The deadline to file for the 2011 primary elections for statewide office is Jan. 25.

- Ryan Alessi


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