FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — One of the state's top Democrats took himself out of contention for governor on Tuesday, announcing two years early that he won't run.
Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson made the announcement just days after his wife, Madeline, told reporters that she's recovering from breast cancer.
The Louisville Democrat was considered one of the strongest contenders to replace Gov. Steve Beshear in 2015. In Kentucky, governors are limited to two terms, and Beshear is in the middle of his second.
"I've decided that it's time, at this stage in my life, to invest my time and my energy on what I'm most passionate about — education," Abramson said in a statement.
He said he no specific plans, other than finish his term Beshear's lieutenant.
A crowded field of potential Democratic candidates remains, including Attorney General Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen, former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and former Auditor Crit Luallen.
On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie announced last month he won't run for governor in 2015. A Bowling Green resident, Guthrie has served the 2nd District in Congress since 2009. He has been actively fundraising for re-election next year, having banked more than $372,000 since April.
His latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows his cash on hand is more than $1.1 million.
Several other potential GOP candidates remain, including Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Stanford banker Jess Correll.
In a speech to the Elizabethtown Rotary Club, Abramson said the state needs to complete its work on tax reform. Abramson, a former Louisville mayor, began tax reforms talks afresh last year by heading a commission that recommended a variety of changes that would generate about $690 million a year in additional revenue.
"If Kentucky wants to be competitive in the 21st century, we need to invest in our young people, more than we're already doing," he said Tuesday.