Will Louisville's Mayor Jump Into Ky.'s '07 Gov. Race?
LOUISVILLE -- Watch the 6 o'clock news here and it seems like every commercial features grainy, black-and-white footage of a politician and an ominous voice denouncing him (or her) as a liberal or a Bush lover. Negativity is the new norm.
So, it comes as something of a surprise when an ad with bright colors, upbeat music and smiling faces pops on screen. It's an ad for Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who is running for reelection. It's not terribly surprising that Abramson's ads are sunny; he is a heavy favorite to retain the office he has held since 1985. He faces only token opposition from Louisville Metro Councilman Kelly Downard (R).
Abramson's ads, a schedule that has taken him all over the state and an aggressive fundraising pace have fueled speculation that the mayor is eyeing a run for governor next year. The hiring of Mark Riddle, a longtime political operative who ran Rep. Ben Chandler's (D) 2003 gubernatorial primary victory, has increased the chatter.
Publicly, Abramson denies any interest in the governor's race, but his actions belie that supposed lack of interest. He has been repeatedly courted to run statewide over his two decades as the head honcho in Louisville, but he has always passed. He may not find that decision as easy next year.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) is in dire political straits, having been indicted earlier in the year on three misdemeanor counts relating to questionable hiring practices in his administration. Fletcher's 2003 running mate -- Lt. Gov. Steve Pence -- has said he will not stand for reelection and is mulling a primary challenge to the incumbent.
Whether Abramson takes the plunge into a statewide race depends heavily on Chandler's political future. After losing to Fletcher in 2003, Chandler bounced back to win a special election to fill the congressional seat Fletcher gave up to run for governor. Chandler is now seen as the leader of Kentucky Democrats and is generally perceived to have the right of first refusal when it comes to the 2007 race. Abramson and Chandler have huddled in recent months and the idea of a Chandler-Abramson ticket has been floated.
Regardless of the identity of the Democratic nominee next year, the Kentucky governor's race will be at the top of the national party's pick-up list.
September 23, 2006; 8:49 AM ET
Categories: Governors , Ohio River Ramble
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