Politics & Government

State Sen. Chris McDaniel would 'welcome the opportunity' to join Comer's gubernatorial bid

State Sen. Chris McDaniel
State Sen. Chris McDaniel

On a recent Friday afternoon in Erlanger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, managed to pull off a look that has made more than a few politicians appear just plain silly.

In a hard hat, safety vest and goggles, McDaniel stood on the dried Northern Kentucky mud chatting with his uncle as they continued construction on their new headquarters for McD Concrete.

Considering that it will likely be McDaniel standing beside Agriculture Commissioner James Comer when he officially announces he is running for governor in Tompkinsville on Sept. 9, McDaniel might want to hang on to that hard hat.

Neither McDaniel nor Comer would confirm that McDaniel is Comer's choice for lieutenant governor, but all indicators point toward The Citadel graduate and former U.S. Army infantry officer who was elected to the state Senate in 2012.

"It certainly interests me," McDaniel told the Herald-Leader over lunch at Chipotle. "Obviously, it's no secret that I think commissioner Comer's the best candidate for governor for this commonwealth from either party. And when people talk about you in this regard, it's a very humbling experience. But at the same end, it's something we have to think long and hard about."

Given that McDaniel and his wife, Billie, are raising two children and three foster children, family concerns are a major factor in considering what would be an enormous pledge of time.

"It would be quite the commitment from her, probably more of a commitment from her than from me," McDaniel said. He added: "But certainly I think I've got a lot to offer and a lot to offer the people of the commonwealth and be a solid asset to any gubernatorial ticket."

Comer said McDaniel's efforts to seek out and eliminate waste, fraud and inefficiencies in government are "the whole emphasis of what the next governor's going to have to do — more with less."

"Every politician says that, but few have a track record of getting in the weeds," Comer said.

That track record landed McDaniel in hot water with his wife when he ordered a review of the state's contract with Miss Kentucky — which falls under Comer's purview as agriculture commissioner — after wondering if it was a good use of state funds.

"I was in the driveway, pressure-washing the driveway and my wife's hollering at me about 'She does good work!'" McDaniel said when asked about the contract. "And I'm saying 'but I still don't know if we should be spending money like that.' And yeah, I got an earful on that one."

McDaniel dropped his concerns after learning that the program is paid for with funds generated by the sale of specialty license plates.

Comer said his first requirement for choosing a running mate is finding someone who could replace him as governor, should the need arise.

"Absolutely I think that Chris could step into the governor's office and lead the state," Comer said.

Though it's still not official, McDaniel said he would be happy and honored to be selected, saying that while "obviously it's a huge commitment ... I would absolutely welcome the opportunity."