AURORA — On the eve of the Fancy Farm picnic, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer Friday night took jabs at the current crop of gubernatorial candidates, setting the stage for his likely entrance into the race.
Comer has been in Western Kentucky for the past week in advance of the annual political event, where political observers expect he’ll announce his own bid for the Republican nomination.
On Friday night, Comer, joined by his wife Tamara Jo, sounded very much like a man running for higher office, taking shots at potential foes in a speech at the Marshall-Calloway County Republican dinner.
Comer bragged about Republicans taking over the western part of the state and took aim at Attorney General Jack Conway, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
“I was rushing through the door and T.J. (Comer’s wife) said there’s somebody over there crying. I looked over there and said, it’s just Jack Conway. He was lost. But we pointed him toward Fancy Farm so I’m sure he’ll be there tomorrow on the stage.”
Many believe Comer will select Kentucky state Sen. Chris McDaniel, of Taylor Mill, as his running mate. The agriculture commissioner, however, was mum about his plans.
Comer did share other predictions for the 2015 governor’s race, which currently pits Conway against Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner, who was sitting front row for Comer’s speech.
“I predict the next governor will be a Republican, I predict the next governor will not be from Louisville,” Comer said.
Both Heiner and Conway are from Louisville.
Heiner’s speech at the GOP dinner avoided any mention of his run for governor or other candidates. He instead focused on Republicans uniting to win this year’s elections.
“The next three months are not about 2015,” he said. “It’s about these elections in 2014 that are going to determine the direction of our country and determine the direction of our state.”
The Heiner campaign released an internal polling memo Friday showing a race against Comer would be a dead heat.
In a survey conducted earlier this week by Fabrizio Lee and Associates, Heiner and Comer each drew 22 percent of likely GOP primary voters.
Heiner’s campaign claims this tells a much different tale of the race than a previous poll showing Comer ahead by 28 points.
The most recent Bluegrass Poll shows Heiner and Comer are still largely unknown to voters, though Comer has a higher favorability rating.