Politics & Government

Richie Farmer will run to keep agriculture post

FRANKFORT - Republican Richie Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball star who used his name recognition to win the 2003 race for state agriculture commissioner, filed yesterday for re-election.

"I always said I would never be involved in politics in any way, but here I am," Farmer said after he signed his candidacy papers in the secretary of state's office. Accompanying him were several members of his family and friends.

Farmer, 37, said he has enjoyed his tenure as the state's farm chief and looks forward to another four years.

He said the state Department of Agriculture "touches the lives of every single Kentuckian every day."

"It's so important to this state," he said. "About one-fourth to one-third of the economic activity in the state is related to agriculture."

Farmer said he is not slating with any other candidate and he is "not worrying" about what Republican may be at the top of the ticket as the party's nominee for governor.

Farmer confirmed that he had considered running for governor or lieutenant governor after being encouraged by friends. "My family talked about it, but this job is the right thing for me at this time," he said.

A native of Clay County, Farmer worked as an investment adviser in Clay County before becoming agriculture commissioner.

Farmer earned a bachelor's of science degree with a double major in agricultural economics and agribusiness management in 1992 from the University of Kentucky, where he was a standout player for the men's basketball team under then-coach Rick Pitino. He was the state's high school "Mr. Basketball" in 1988.

Farmer is the only Republican so far to file for agriculture commissioner. David Neville of Pleasureville has filed as a Democrat. Neville runs several farms in Shelby County that raise cattle and tobacco.

The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday.