WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has chosen Kentucky's lieutenant governor as his liaison to state and local governments, bringing an official experienced in successfully implementing his health care law to the White House as the second open enrollment period is set to kick off.
Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson brings experience at both the state and local level. He is known as Louisville's "mayor for life" after overseeing the city for 21 years, the longest tenure in its history. Abramson, 68, served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 1993 to 1994.
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear chose Abramson as his running mate when running for re-election in 2011. Beshear announced at a news conference Thursday that his new lieutenant would be Crit Luallen, who served two terms as state auditor and has worked for several governors dating back to the 1970s.
One of Abramson's duties will be to help coordinate with states on the upcoming second open enrollment under Obama's health care law. It begins on Nov. 15, the day after Abramson is on the job, and runs for three months.
Abramson brings unique experience as chairman of Kentucky's health care initiative. Kentucky has been an Obamacare success story, with more than 400,000 people signing up under the state's health insurance exchange.
The White House said Abramson also will work on education and economic issues, including efforts to raise the minimum wage in states and cities because Congress has refused to take up Obama's call to increase it nationally. The White House said Obama selected Abramson as head of intergovernmental affairs because of his experience working across party lines and with leaders from the public and private sectors on the economy and health care.
Abramson also brings a home-state connection to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell as he's preparing to become majority leader with this week's midterm giving his party control, although the White House says the appointment has been in the works for months. Abramson briefly considered challenging McConnell in this year's election but decided against it.
Abramson replaces David Agnew, who departed the White House earlier this fall to take a job with an investment bank. He will report to Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. His appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.
Associated Press reporters Brett Barrouquere in Louisville and Bruce Schreiner in Frankfort contributed to this report. Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nedrapickler