State Rep. Bill Farmer considers run for governor with Rep. Adam Koenig; Another GOP ticket to be announced Thursday

07/27/2010 10:41 AM

Republican state Rep. Bill Farmer of Lexington and Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger are looking at forming a ticket in the 2011 governor’s race.

State Rep. Bill Farmer, a Lexington Republican, posted messages Monday indicating interest in big political moves in his future. He confirmed Tuesday that he is looking at running for governor in 2011.

Farmer and Koenig both confirmed their interest to cn|2 Politics on Tuesday after Farmer posted several messages on his Facebook page Monday hinting at “expanding political opportunities” in his future.

“I don’t hear anybody talking about tax reform. I don’t hear anybody looking at revenue sources that don’t raise taxes,” Farmer said. “We are stuck in a rut. People want new results.”

Farmer, a tax consultant, has been one of the General Assembly’s most outspoken voices for changing the tax code. He has proposed various tax restructuring plans aimed at lowering or eliminating the income tax in favor of applying sales taxes to a broader base of services and closing loopholes. Democratic leaders named Farmer to a task force last year to consider tax reforms but Farmer quit after he said he realized that leaders weren’t interested in tackling long-term changes.

Farmer said he wants to signal to Republicans that they will have options and will be gauging potential support in the next couple weeks before forming an official exploratory committee.

Koenig, who ran for state treasurer in 2003, said the potential Farmer-Koenig ticket began to form Monday morning as the two talked while attending the National Conference on State Legislatures in Louisville.

“We’ve been talking about how some things need to change, and we need to take the bull by the horns and change our tax structure to make it more friendly for business,” Koenig said.

Farmer said he is not enthusiastic about “the current options that exist as a Republican.”

Officially, there aren’t any Republican tickets looking to take on Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear next year.

But Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican, told cn|2 Politics in an interview Friday that he is interested in running and has been in discussions to form a ticket with Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, the former University of Kentucky basketball player and no relation to Bill Farmer.

Also, David Adams, the former campaign chairman for U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, announced Monday that he would be in Lexington Thursday afternoon to unveil a ticket that is seeking the support of the tea party movement. ¬†Adams said he has been working for the last year to set up a slate of candidates who share the movement’s interest in cutting government spending and debt.

Adams declined to confirm or deny the names of the candidates on the ticket that will be announced after 3 p.m. on Leland Conway’s radio show on 630 WLAP. “We’ve got everybody set,” said Adams, who left the Paul campaign this month to serve as campaign manager for the yet-to-be-announced ticket.

Much speculation has focused on Phil Moffett, a member of the board of directors of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions — a freemarket think tank based in Bowling Green. Moffett also has been an advocate for school choice and charter schools.

Moffett’s potential running mate could be state Rep. Mike Harmon, a Republican from Junction City. Adams would not confirm or deny that. And Harmon, who returned a call to cn|2 Politics early Tuesday, also said he could not confirm or deny anything before the announcement.

However, a website with the name MoffettHarmon.com was reserved Monday by an entity that has remained private by using a proxy, according to a search of domain names.

Adams said the ticket he’s put together will not presume to be the automatic choice for the tea party movement because those supporters would have to make that decision for themselves.

“In fact, the personalities have very little to do with this. It’s a matter of principles first,” he said. “None of this involved central planning. The people have come center stage of their own volition.”

Adams said he welcomed other slates of Republicans into the race, even those who might court the tea party movement supporters.

“If someone else wanted to do the same thing, that’s perfectly in keeping with the movement,” he said.

- Ryan Alessi

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