Politicians 'ham' it up at annual state fair breakfast


by Joe Arnold


Posted on August 23, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 23 at 6:34 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Candidates on the fall ballot and potential candidates in future races joined Kentucky Farm Bureau members for the "political circus" of the Country Ham Breakfast Thursday morning.


"It's kind of a mandatory attendance for politicians," said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky Third Congressional District), "It's kind of fun to see who shows up."


To see and to be seen.  Republican congressional challengers Brooks Wicker, Thomas Massie and Andy Barr shook hands while current officeholders were pressed by WHAS11 whether their political futures include the 2015 governor's race and the 2014 U.S. Senate race.


"If somebody wants to run against (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell -- let me say I look forward to someone running against Mitch McConnell -- my guess is that would have to be decided by Thanksgiving of this year," said Adam Edelen, Kentucky Auditor.


To raise enough money to compete with McConnell's substantial campaign war chest would necessitate a challenger to announce a campign this year, said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who dismissed any talk of her seeking the Democratic nomination.


Edelen said elected leaders should focus on their current jobs.


"The people can't stand a politician who gets into office and immediately starts thinking about the next opportunty," Edelen said.  "If I spent bandwidth thinking about what's next, I'll miss out on doing the really important work that the people of Kentucky have elected me to do."


Attorney General Jack Conway agreed.


"Remember Bill Clinton's old line, 'You're never going to be elected to something else when you fail to do the job you have now?'" Conway said.




Yet both Conway and Edelen conceded that gubernatorial runs may be in their future.


"Certainly I would be interested in having a significant, very significant leadership role in Kentucky," Edelen said.


Asked if his next race is more likely to be for Governor, Lt Governor or U.S. Senate, Conway replied, "I think if I run any race it would most likely be governor in 2015."


Conway's friend and ally, former auditor Crit Luallen, is also said to be considering a gubernatorial run.  Conway was asked if the pair became running mates, who would top the ticket.


"Crit said she's looking at the race, I'm looking at the race," Conway said.  "My name ID is very high right now given the races that I have run.  And I'm in a position where I am a pretty well known commodity."


Conway's pledge to serve his entire term as Attorney General would rule out a 2014 Senate run against McConnell.


Asked about whether he will run against McConnell, Yarmuth said, "No."


"I'm going to make sure there's a strong opponent," Yarmuth said.  "He needs to be retired." 


U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, a popular name among Republicans looking ahead to the 2015 governor's race, denied any plans.


"I'm running for Congress," Guthrie said.  "I have no plans on running for governor."


Another GOP officeholder often mentioned for the 2015 governor's race, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, also discouraged such speculation in a WHAS11 interview last week.


"I'm lucky to be where I am," Comer said.  "Agriculture Commisioner is the highest office in the land.  It ranks about three  notches above governor or anything else."