Former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler accepted the post of executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council on Friday, saying he will "take a break from politics for a while."
Chandler, a Woodford County Democrat who lost his 6th Congressional District seat last year to Republican Andy Barr of Lexington, will start his new job July 1. He succeeds Virginia G. Carter, who is retiring after leading the council since 1989.
Chandler, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2015, said he is focused on succeeding in his new job. Still, he declined to rule out a future run for political office, although he said he was "in no hurry to get back into that arena."
Chandler said that there is no limit on how long he will hold the job, and that he serves at the board's pleasure.
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The Lexington-based council is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. It has spent $14 million "telling Kentucky's story" over the past four decades through history, heritage and arts programs.
The nonprofit group is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by private contributions. It receives no state funding and did not disclose Chandler's salary.
The council's board chairman, Bill Francis of Prestonsburg, said the board chose Chandler after interviewing six people because he is "the perfect fit for the council, with his passion for the history and culture of the commonwealth and his knowledge of Kentucky and its people."
Chandler said he sought the job when he heard that Carter was leaving. He described it as "almost like a dream come true, because I love this state."
He said he has no plans to make changes in the council's staff.
Chandler, 53, has a bachelor's degree in history and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.
He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2004 to early January this year. During his tenure in the House, Chandler was a four-year member of the House Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations, which oversees the budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Before going to Congress, Chandler was Kentucky's attorney general and state auditor.