Jim Host, Chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority Inc., is quietly feeling out a possible run for Governor. Sources close to Host tell me that he is only bouncing the idea around with old friends at the moment. Jim Host is not necessarily a household name in Western Kentucky but it would probably not take him long to get acquainted given his long history with Kentucky football and basketball.
A native of Ashland, Host began a broadcasting career in Lexington after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1961. Host did play-by-play on WVLK for UK basketball and football. At age 29, Host was chosen by Gov. Louie Nunn to serve as Commissioner of the Dept. of Public Information. In 1971 he won the republican nomination for Lt. Governor but lost the General Election. Tom Emberton was the republican nominee for governor that year and the Emberton/Host slate lost to Wendell Ford and Julian Carroll.
Jim Host would leave politics and go on to start Host Communications a media and sports marketing firm. Within 15 years Jim Host would be known nationally as the "Father of sports marketing". Starting with garnering the exclusive rights to radio for Kentucky basketball, Host would later add Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, LSU, Boston College and many more. A publishing Company was also founded by Host to produce UK football and basketball programs.
Jim Host is given credit for helping provide a financial package to lure Rick Pitino to Kentucky and created the first NCAA sponsorship program. Host also served as head of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet in the Fletcher Administration.
Host would have to be considered one of the two top contenders for the Republican nomination along with Mike Duncan former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Republican insiders that I spoke with concur that Host and Duncan would be the front runners at this time. Senate Majority Leader David Williams was dismissed as a serious contender by all the Republicans I spoke with. Williams is considered to have too much baggage and has done serious damage to many relationships he once enjoyed within the Republican Party.
One long-time Republican activist who wished to remain anonymous said in regard to Sen. Williams, "Ronald Reagan was fond of saying that he knew what he knew and knew what he didn't know. Sen. Williams knows what he knows but unfortunately doesn't know what he doesn't know."
Most consider Richie Farmer to be a possible candidate for governor but many of those who I spoke with were critical of what they considered as his "hot and cold" moods regarding making a decision. Bill Johnson who withdrew from the U.S. Senate race is also considering seeking the nomination.
Sources tell me that Cathy Bailey of Louisville is also canvassing the political landscape for support for a possible candidacy for Lt. Governor. Bailey is a known GOP fundraiser and served as Ambassador to Lativia under President George W. Bush. Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw seems to be the favorite among those I spoke with to seek the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. Holsclaw was elected County Clerk in Jefferson County in 1998, Prior to being elected clerk, Holsclaw worked in the U.S. Attorney's office and for former Sen. Majority Leader Bob Dole.
UPDATE: Ryan Alessi at CN-2 Politics informed me that Jim Host stated that he was not going to run for governor. Alessi has gone ahead and posted his story and video. I re verified my information from my sources and they are sticking with their story.