Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is a third generation Louisvillian. His wife, Madeline, is a fourth generation city resident. But, he jokingly told the crowd at the Paducah airport on Tuesday, “we are still Kentuckians”.
Abramson said he never had any intention of running for lieutenant governor until Steve Beshear called him. Abramson had been contemplating his sixth run for mayor. Abramson had served three terms as mayor of Louisville before the city and county merged and two terms since the merger. But when Beshear asked, Abramson said yes.
The two men go back almost thirty years to when Abramson was general counsel in Governor John Y. Brown’s administration and Beshear was attorney general. When Beshear started looking for a running mate, he didn’t look any farther than Louisville. The Governor traces his roots to Dawson Springs in West Kentucky. The rural-urban combination couldn’t be better. The best way to describe their team is “enthusiasm” said the Governor.
Beshear called Abramson a “proven leader”. He said that “some people wonder why I picked someone from Louisville.” He said the reason was that “20% of the voters already love” Abramson, referring to the proportion of Jefferson County voters to the rest of the state.
When asked if their early announcement would hurt the fund raising efforts of the two Democratic senatorial candidates, Dan Mongiardo who is supported by the Governor, and Jack Conway, Abramson’s pick, the Governor said, “I don’t think it will hurt it all. Both of them are running hard and they are different races.” The Governor pledged that when the dust settles after the primary, they will be on board supporting whoever wins that race. “One thing we can all agree on. It’s time for the incumbent to go.”
When asked who would be minding the store with the attorney general, lieutenant governor, governor and mayor of the largest city in Kentucky running for office, the Governor said that all the office holders will be doing their jobs.
“It is certainly not unusual for a current office holder to run for another office. As a matter of fact, there was a fellow named Barack Obama who did it recently and his opponent John McCain also did it.” the Governor answered.
The Governor elaborated on why he and Mayor Abramson were announcing in 2009 for a 2011 election. “Kentucky law requires us to be announced candidates for governor and lieutenant governor so we can raise money. We’re going to be spending whatever political time we have between now and 2011 mainly on fundraising. We’re not going to start this campaign in an active way until 2011 because people aren’t ready for that. There’s no need to do that and .. we need to be concentrating on our jobs.”
Abramson said he has a year and a half left as mayor and he plans to be as aggressive as he was in the first 19 ½ years.
“I said that to the Governor and he certainly has been a supporter of that. We will aggressively kick this campaign off in 2011, but we may raise a few dollars in the meantime.”