TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

August 7, 2013

Abramson rules out run for governor in 2015


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson will not run for governor in 2015.

Abramson, who will be 67 next month, made the announcement in a speech Tuesday to the Elizabethtown Rotary Club, saying he wants to spend the final two-and-half years as lieutenant governor focusing on education and the “next generation.”

He said his decision wasn’t influenced by his wife Madeline’s recent treatment for breast cancer.

“She’s fine, she’s 100 percent and everything that could go right did go right,” Abramson told reporters after speaking to the Rotary Club.

Gov. Steve Beshear is in his second term and ineligible to run in 2015. Abramson has been mulling over whether to run to succeed Beshear and had said he would make his decision shortly after last weekend’s Fancy Farm Picnic, a must-attend event for Kentucky politicians which Abramson skipped this year.

Abramson spent most of his 26-minute speech talking about the importance of education and his passion for helping prepare the next generation to make Kentucky a better state.

After describing education as “my passion,” the former popular Louisville Mayor decried six years of budget cuts and declining public support for education at all levels, urging those in the room to tell their lawmakers the state should invest more in educating its children.

“Our generation will be judged by the way we prepare the next generation,” Abramson said, “I’d like to in my next chapter of my life focus on one thing I really believe will make a significant difference in the future of Kentucky and that focus is on education.

“And that’s why I’ve decided I am not going to run for governor in 2015,” Abramson said, adding it was not “a snap decision” and he’d discussed it with his wife, family and friends.

He said he chose to reveal his decision in Elizabethtown because he’d promised to make an announcement shortly after Fancy Farm and the Rotary Club event was already scheduled.

Later Abramson said he has no plans to seek office again, although he said, “Never say never.” He also said his decision doesn’t indicate a desire to move into the president’s office at a university.

“I don’t see that in the future at this point,” Abramson said when asked about becoming a university president. “That’s certainly not the reason I’ve decided not to run for governor.”

Abramson said governors must continuously address an evolving range of issues which often require priority attention at the expense of larger, long-term goals and, “Education is where I want to spend my time.”

He said he will not be involved in a Democratic Primary for governor but will spend the next year working on behalf of Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The announcement not only ends speculation about Abramson’s 2015 gubernatorial plans but perhaps signals an end to his long career in government and politics.

The Louisville native earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana University where he campaigned across Indiana in 1968 for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy who later was assassinated.

Following graduation from the Georgetown University Law School, Abramson spent two years in the U.S. Army and upon returning to Louisville won two terms on the Louisville Board of Alderman. In 1980 Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. named Abramson his general counsel and then at age 38 Abramson made his first run for Mayor of Louisville.

He served five terms as mayor — three of the city of Louisville and two more after the merger of Louisville and Jefferson County governments, an effort he helped lead.

He earned consistently high approval ratings during the first four terms and was often called “Mayor for life.” But his final term was beset by charges of wrongdoing by administrators he’d named to head some agencies but he was never implicated.

After Beshear’s first-term lieutenant governor, Daniel Mongiardo, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Beshear asked Abramson to join his ticket as lieutenant governor in the 2011 governor’s race which Beshear won handily.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.