FRANKFORT – Todd County businessman Bill Johnson, who withdrew from this year’s Republican primary election for U.S. Senate, said Tuesday it is unlikely that he will run for governor next year — a move he was considering.
Johnson, a Navy veteran who garnered about 8,000 votes in May’s Republican primary election even though he bowed out of the race in March, said he has not ruled out a 2011 bid for governor but “the environment is not conducive to my type of campaign.”
He said he expects the field of candidates will be crowded and will require a great deal of campaign funds to be successful.
Johnson said he might be interested in running for secretary of state or auditor.
In late May, Johnson said he was considering running for governor on a ticket with state Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown for lieutenant governor.
Johnson said Tuesday that he has talked to Thayer about the governor’s race, “and he agrees with me that it would be difficult.”
“I think Bill definitely has a future in our party and that he should keep his options open to run for a constitutional office next year or for the state Senate in 2012,” Thayer said in phone interview.
Thayer said he never was interested in running against Senate President David Williams of Burkesville or Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who have been mentioned as prospects for the office.
Williams has said he is interested in running for governor next year and has talked to Farmer, who was a popular basketball player at the University of Kentucky in the 1990s, as his running mate.
As for his political future, Thayer said he is “watching carefully” to see what Williams does.
Asked if he would be interested in being Williams’ running mate, Thayer said, “Yes, but I think the dream ticket for the Republican Party would be Williams and Farmer.”
Asked if he has talked to Williams about possibly being his running mate, Thayer said, “I don’t want to disclose the nature of any of our confidential discussions.” Williams could not be reached for comment.
Bill Clary, a spokesman for Farmer, said Farmer has not yet decided about his political future.
Thayer also said he might be interested in running for secretary of state or auditor, but would not run against Johnson for any of those offices.
“I also could run for the Senate again in 2012,” Thayer said.
Johnson said he will be at this weekend’s Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County. Thayer said he will not.