LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Asked if his first state fair as Agriculture Commissioner is the political ramp up to the 2015 gubernatorial campaign in Kentucky, James Comer deflected.
"I'm lucky to be where I am," Comer told WHAS11. "Ag Commissioner is the highest office in the land. It ranks about three notches above governor or anything else."
To Comer, a Monroe County beef cattle farmer, the Kentucky State Fair is familiar territory. Walking with a TV news crew through dairy cattle stalls on Friday, Comer greeted many state fair participants by first name and engaged others with questions about their success in showing livestock.
"You gain respect by work ethic," Comer said, "And that's something that whether people like me or not they know I work hard."
Comer said the new management and "great dedicated employees" he has brought on in the Agriculture Department after the Richie Farmer administration reflects that work ethic.
An April audit alleged a "toxic culture of entitlement" during Farmer's eight years as commisioner. Comer acknowledged that he knows his administration is being watched.
"I think we've done a lot of cleaning up. We've become transparent in the department. We're being efficient. We're making employees accountable," Comer said. "If the taxpayers pay them to work 40 hours per week, they're going to get 40 hours per week."