LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Abramson will run for Lt. Governor in 2011


Gov. Steve Beshear said Sunday he has chosen the mayor of Kentucky's largest city to be his running mate when he seeks re-election in two years.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is scheduled to appear with Beshear at a news conference Monday morning in Frankfort for the official announcement.

"I am very excited about this ticket," Beshear told The Associated Press. "These are very serious times, and serious times call for serious leaders."

The early selection allows Beshear to begin raising money for his 2011campaign. Beshear said Abramson was his first choice and the only person he to talked about the position.

"It's a good choice for Gov. Beshear," said University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck. "But I am surprised Mayor Abramson would accept the offer."

Abramson praised Beshear's leadership at a time of financial difficulty, saying that helped persuade him to join the ticket.

"I would have never been interested in being lieutenant governor with anyone other than Steve Beshear," Abramson said.

Beshear had to seek a new running mate after Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo entered the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Jim Bunning.

The governor will now begin banking campaign contributions to ward off potential challengers, said Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.

"People who hold office usually win re-election," Voss said. "It's because they scare off competition. When you have a lot of money, it sends a message to possible opponents that it's too expensive to bother to try to beat you."

Abramson, the longest serving mayor in Louisville history, is in his fifth term. While supporters have dubbed him "Mayor for Life," he isn't without critics, especially among organized labor.

Bill Londrigan, head of the Kentucky AFL-CIO, went so far as to publicly call on Beshear not to make Abramson his running mate, saying he has not been union-friendly in the city of 700,000.

Londrigan released a letter he sent to Beshear discouraging Abramson's selection. Londrigan declined further comment after news broke Sunday that the governor had chosen Abramson.

"We made our position known in the letter we sent," Londrigan said. "That's all we're going to do at this point."

Abramson served three terms before city and county governments were unified and has served two terms since. He previously served two years on the Louisville board of aldermen and was general counsel to former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.

Rhodebeck said the charismatic Abramson seems an odd pick for the humdrum role of lieutenant governor, a position that carries few day-to-day responsibilities in modern-day Kentucky.

Rhodebeck said Abramson may have wanted to briefly step out of the spotlight and begin preparation for a future campaign for governor or U.S. senator.

Abramson left open that possibility in a telephone interview.

"You don't take anything off the table," he said.