Education

Richie Farmer considering governor's race, but really wants UK athletics job

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, right, and Senate President David Williams made a campaign stop in Ashland earlier this month. Farmer is running for lieutenant governor.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, right, and Senate President David Williams made a campaign stop in Ashland earlier this month. Farmer is running for lieutenant governor.

LOUISVILLE — State Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said Thursday he has not ruled out a bid for governor next year but that his "dream job" would be athletics director at the University of Kentucky.

In recent weeks, Farmer has been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor in 2011 on a slate with Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.

Talking to reporters before the 47th annual Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast sponsored by the Kentucky Farm Bureau at the state fair, Farmer said he expects to announce his exact political plans within a few weeks after the fair ends this weekend.

"Certainly after the fair I will make sure to let everybody know what my plans are," Farmer said, noting that running for secretary of state or some other constitutional office is an option.

Farmer said he "will be running for something" next year but would prefer being UK's athletics director. He quickly added that he does not think that's an option for him now.

Mitch Barnhart, who has been UK's athletics director since 2002, did not respond to a phone call and e-mail for comment.

Farmer, a star basketball player at UK in the 1990s, said he has talked to Williams about a possible slate next year and that they have discussed who would be at the top of ticket.

"My family is the most important thing to me," Farmer said. "I have three boys who are 13, 11 and 8, and I have to try to do what is right for them."

Farmer called Williams "somebody I have a lot of respect for. He's very, very intelligent. He understands state government probably as well as anybody."

Farmer acknowledged that he and Williams could end up as rivals in next year's contest for the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Told that Farmer has not ruled out a bid for governor, Williams said Farmer and he have been in "constant communication with each other" and that they will announce "the right decision soon."

Asked what he considers the right decision to be, Williams said, "The right decision will be the right decision.

"We have a common view of the vision of Kentucky, and we will be making an announcement about both of our futures shortly."

Asked if he would consider being the No. 2 spot on a gubernatorial slate, Williams again said that they will announce their political plans soon.

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