Farmer’s menu at luncheon: basketball, politics

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He says he won’t endorse candidate for ag commissioner

By Lisa King

Builders and realtors who had lunch at Claudia Sanders on Tuesday were treated to more than just chicken.

They listened to a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor – and outgoing agriculture commissioner – Richie Farmer talk about three topics near to the hearts of Kentuckians: basketball, farming and politics.

Farmer talked a lot about the first subject, a little about the second, and only briefly touched upon the last in his address a meeting of  the Home Builders Association of Louisville’s Shelby County council.

Farmer talked about his basketball experiences from the time he was in first grade and told his captive audience about a game he would never forget – the University of Kentucky’s 1992 loss against Duke in the NCAA regional final, a game that Farmer said is referred to as the greatest college basketball game ever played.

Farmer, Clay County’s former Mr. Basketball, took the audience back in time to the end of the game to when Duke’s Christian Laettner hit a 17-foot, buzzer-beating jumper in overtime to devastate Kentucky fans with a 104-103 loss.

“I never forgot that way I felt at that moment,” he said. “I would wake up in the middle of the night for years after that, saying, ‘I can’t believe he made that shot.’”

Farmer also told realtors about some things he has accomplished during his two terms as agriculture commission, including the implementation of the Kentucky Proud products, which he said that, to date, have earned half-a-billion dollars in retail sales.

“And the best thing is, not only do you get a good quality product, but every time you buy a Kentucky Proud product, you are also helping Kentuckians to make a living,” he said.

Farmer, himself a product of southeastern Kentucky, also told the group why he decided to team up with state Senate President David Williams, who is running for governor.

“I’ve got three little boys, 14, 12 and 9, and the most important thing in my life is my family and those little boys,” he said. “People ask me why I’m running. I love this state, and I love the young people, and I think it’s important that we have strong leadership in the governor and lieutenant governor’s positions.

“We’ve talked about tax reforms, job creation and educating our young people, because Kentucky has so many young people with so many wonderful things to offer, and I’m tired of our young people having to go to other states to make a living. We need to be able to create those opportunities for them right here.

“So I’m excited about the opportunity to do that and hope that you guys will support me.”

Farmer said he does not plan to support any specific candidate for ag commissioner, a field that includes Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger.

“I may after the primary, but I can tell you that the Republican slate of those running, they are very impressive, and I want to see whoever comes in behind me continue the things we have accomplished,” he said.

In response to a question about his stance on casino gambling, he said he thinks it should be up to the people to decide.

“I think that is an issue that is so important to this state that we don’t need to let one person or a group of people in Frankfort decide it for Kentucky,” he said.