FRANKFORT — Add the name of former Democratic Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo to the list of Kentuckians considering running for governor in 2015.
Mongiardo, a Hazard physician who was lieutenant governor in Gov. Steve Beshear's first administration from 2007 to 2011, said Friday in a telephone interview that he is "looking at" a possible bid in three years to be the state's top elected official.
He also said if he decides to run, he'd be looking for a running mate "who has a passion for serving people, knowledgeable about the issues and has leadership capabilities." He said those attributes describe current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of Lexington.
"She is very bright and has an excellent future in public life," he said.
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Asked whether he has talked to Grimes about the 2015 race, Mongiardo said they are friends "and have discussed a lot of things."
Grimes was not immediately available for comment, said her spokeswoman, Lynn Zellen. Grimes has said she is concentrating on her job as secretary of state.
Mongiardo, 52, was a state senator from 2001 to 2007 and narrowly lost races for the U.S. Senate — against Republican Jim Bunning in the 2004 general election and against Jack Conway in the 2010 Democratic primary.
In July 2009, Beshear chose Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson to be his running mate for the 2011 governor's race because Mongiardo had announced he was going to run for U.S. Senate.
Beshear wanted to begin fundraising for the 2011 race, and state law says candidates cannot raise money until they announce their intention to run.
Mongiardo said Friday he is enjoying his life as an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Hazard with his wife and two children.
"Stepping out of politics for a while has given me the perspective of what many people not in politics see," he said. "People are frustrated with the lack of progress and compromise in government."
He said he was not directing his remarks at any individual but at both major political parties.
"I'm frustrated with government and might be looking at what I could do to change it," he said.
Several Democrats already have been mentioned as possible candidates for governor in 2015. They include Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, Attorney General Conway, former Auditor Crit Luallen, Auditor Adam Edelen, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, and outgoing U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler.
Republicans mentioned for the office include U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.