Opening words: Lt. Gov. candidate Farmer seeks to re-set, while Abramson adjusts to being sidekick

05/22/2011 04:09 PM

Lieutenant governor candidates are generally required to serve either as dutiful cheerleaders for the top of their tickets or as attack dogs against the opposing party.

But the first rule for running mates is to do no harm.

Richie Farmer, the lieutenant governor candidate on the GOP’s nominated ticket, used his speech on primary election night to try to wipe the slate clean after several weeks of damage control.

Articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal exposed his spending as agriculture commissioner on taxpayer-funded hotel stays in Louisville and Lexington while he was the department’s Kentucky Proud program — including a $357-a-night suite in Lexington. That came after he declined to give back part of his salary in support of state workers who were furloughed, then reversed course.

“I’ll say this well, I’ve got about 30% less money than I had when I came seven-and-a-half years ago and about 20% less people,” Farmer said Tuesday night. “And I think that’s what the people have asked us to do is become more efficient, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.”

Farmer called the Kentucky Proud marketing program for Kentucky-grown and raised products “the most successful economic development program in state government the last seven-and-a-half years.”

Farmer also laid out his case for why he sought to run for lieutenant governor with David Williams, the state Senate president.

“My boys are 14, 12 and 9. And I’m a Kentuckian. I’ve been a Kentuckian my whole life. And I think about that. I’ve been fortunate to achieve my dreams here in Kentucky,” he said. “And I want that same thing for my three boys.”

On the Democratic side, Jerry Abramson, the former Louisville mayor, used his few minutes after last week’s primary, to describe how and why he landed on Beshear’s ticket.

Abramson said he was preparing to run for his sixth and final term as mayor when Beshear called him to ask about teaming up for this 2011 run.

“We thought to ourselves, this is a special moment in time,” Abramson said. And he called Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear’s first three years “tremendously successful.”

Without a primary on the Democratic side, Abramson’s record has not yet come under the full public scrutiny that Farmer did during the GOP primary.

- Video by Holly Thompson and Bradley McKee


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