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July 8, 2009

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Facts, rumors and political innuendo

There have been grave rumblings in the mayoral race betting pool since last week, so let’s get right to it.

First and foremost, attorney Craig Greenberg is out. The Museum Plaza developer and young, bright Jewish lawyer confirmed to LEO Weekly Monday he’s forgoing plans to run in the Democratic primary because the General Assembly approved legislation that might get the city’s biggest (stalled) private project back on track.

“I’m very honored and flattered that folks were talking about me,” Greenberg says. “But after we got this legislation in Frankfort about a week and a half ago, and we are closer than ever to making Museum Plaza a reality, I decided to focus on getting that financed and under construction at this time.”

Reading between the lines offers two points worth consideration. First, the biggest strike against Greenberg is that, without a record of public service, nobody knows who he is. Maybe building a world-renowned skyscraper on the riverfront helps that, and he tells us his will to run is “stronger than ever,” so don’t expect him to go away. Second, the dish for weeks has been that Mayor Jerry Abramson is a big Greenberg ally, and that the latter wouldn’t run unless Abramson decided to pass on a bid for a third and final term as Metro mayor. Maybe The Jer’s in after all. He’ll tell us next month. Either way, we can’t wait.

Next, Tyler Allen confirmed he’s seriously considering a run, and if he’s as dedicated to this as his other project, we’re looking at a long haul. The proprietor of the 8664 initiative says he’s been talking up politicos, elected officials and moneyholders around town to gauge a run. And he doesn’t care if he faces Abramson, whose popularity has waned, in the Democratic primary.

“My point is it’s time for a change,” he says. “Therefore, if I’m thinking about getting in, I have to be ready whether [Abramson is] running or not. You don’t just wait until he’s done. So certainly I’m thinking about running no matter who’s in the race. It’s a calculation about the future of the city, not my political career.”

Good answer.

On the Republican side, we can scratch two Metro councilmen off the list. Kevin Kramer, R-11 and former council president, says there’s been a lot of interest in his candidacy, but he’s leaving that mess behind to hang with family: His kids are both seniors — one in college, the other high school — and he’s keyed up for two graduations in the spring. There’s also talk he’ll face a serious re-election challenge, and considering Louisville hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since the 1960s, Kramer could be eyeing political bankruptcy.

Hal Heiner, R-19, also tells us rumors of his ascendancy are exaggerated, saying he’s got plenty to do running a business, having a family and opposing everything Abramson tries to do (OK, we added that last one).

A Republican insider tells us both may have had trouble raising money, Heiner because he’s too negative and Kramer because of low name recognition.

Then there’s Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, a bona fide conservative who was trounced by Abramson in 2006 and has since emerged as his greatest antagonist, (rightfully) leading inquiry after inquiry into the questionable hirings at some major city departments (remember the Housing debacle?). Downard is non-committal about the race, but sources say he’s leaning into the wind.

“The thing that makes me want to do it is I think the management of our city is atrocious,” Downard says. “I think we have problems a lot of places. I think we stick our head in the sand and don’t admit it.”

Here’s something intriguing: Insiders are also floating Ken Fleming as the Republican ticket holder. On the council, the 7th District Republican has been a leader on ethics reform and was one of a few who lanced the Insight Communications telecom monopoly a few years back.

“I have had quite a few people on both sides of the political aisle approach me,” Fleming says. “I’m kicking it around. I need to look at the whole situation because I know it will take a chunk of change to pull this thing off.”

And finally, two names everybody seems to be floating the last few days are former Lt. Gov. Steve Pence (also Rick Pitino’s attorney in the extortion matter) and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw.

What’s that? Is Anne Northup contemplating a resurgence, too?

You heard it here first.

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