With his tenure as the longest serving mayor in Louisville history officially completed earlier this month, Jerry Abramson was in the area Friday campaigning for what he hopes will be his first foray into statewide office.
Abramson, 64, served as mayor of Louisville and the merged county-city government for a total of five terms before deciding last year to run for lieutenant governor as a Democrat on the ticket with Gov. Steve Beshear. He spent time Friday meeting with officials at the Boyle County Courthouse in between stops at Centre College and in Lancaster.
Abramson said he understands the concerns of local officials from his experience running a city, albeit the largest in the state, and overseeing the first successful merger of city and county government in Kentucky.
“Twenty-one years as mayor and being the head of county government gives you a pretty good perspective,” Abramson said. “People here are worried about the jails, creating jobs, building infrastructure like the (Ky. 33-34) connector project and economic development. There are similar issues in Jefferson County and Boyle County, even if there may be more money involved in solving the problems.”
Abramson had several opportunities to get into statewide politics in the past. He was sought out as a possible gubernatorial candidate before the last election, but said he decided not to enter the race primarily because he wanted his son to be able to finish school in Louisville.
It took a persuasive call from Beshear, who was attorney general when Abramson served as general counsel to former Gov. John Y. Brown, to convince him to join the ticket. Abramson said their three-decade association and the vision Beshear described for his role made him confident that his role as lieutenant governor would be more than a contingency plan.
“We spoke about how he wants us to function in the same way ( former Lieutenant Governor) Wilson Wyatt and (Gov.) Bert Combs did,” Abramson said. “I would handle economic development, work with city and county governments and sit at the table with him to make decisions.”
With the filing deadline for state races looming on Tuesday, Beshear and Abramson still don’t have any primary competition. Senate President David Williams and running mate Richie Farmer are currently ahead in the polls, but Abramson said the focus wouldn’t shift to either of the Republican tickets
Until the general election heats up, Abramson said he would continue spending part of the week teaching a class at Bellarmine University and the other part on the trail making contacts and raising the necessary funds for the race, which he said will likely be close to $10 million.