During Monday’s debate between the three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer continually reminded voters of his folk hero status as a basketball legend.
Besides mentioning being “valedictorian of his elementary school class”, Farmer, who is running with state Senate President David Williams, accentuated being named Mr. Basketball in 1988, who subsequently played for the University of Kentucky.
Don’t believe me? Check it out.
From Barefoot & Progressive:
The Williams campaign hasn’t tried to hide Farmer’s basketball status—even incorporating it into their campaign logo and advertisements—as a way to soften the image of the notoriously prickly Williams.
From the Courier-Journal:
Williams chose Farmer for the ticket because of who he is and not necessarily what he’s done in his seven-plus years in the agriculture post.
Who he is is Richie Farmer, basketball star — the point guard from the mountains who electrified the Sweet 16 in leading Clay County to the boys’ state championship in 1987.
He then electrified the state in helping the University of Kentucky nearly upset top-ranked Duke University in what many believe is the greatest college basketball game ever played.
That’s why Williams picked Farmer.
But at a certain point during the debate one got the feeling that Farmer was making the argument that his basketball skills were a qualification. That might work with a good number of voters, but given the string of stories scrutinizing Farmer’s spending (here, here, here and here) as a state official, the “Mr. Basketball” line is becoming a source of laughter among political observers.
Others, however, have wisely pointed out that the negative press could work in the campaign’s favor among Farmer supporters, who believe the former UK star ‘s being “picked on” by the media.