Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 13, 2012

Republican leadership positions up for grabs

FRANKFORT — Power, they say, abhors a vacuum. There’s presently a big vacuum in the leadership of the Republican led Kentucky state Senate and a growing number of Republican senators want to help fill that vacuum.

With the resignation and departure of Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, other senators are scrambling not just to fill that position but others.

Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has declared his intention to become Williams’ successor and he’s been joined by Bob Leeper, I-Paducah. Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, and Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, have announced they want to succeed Stivers as Majority Leader.

Now others are announcing plans to challenge current Republican leaders.

Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, said he will challenge Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum, R-Louisville.

One reason Bowen is seeking a leadership role, he said Tuesday, is the absence of leaders from western Kentucky.

“That’s at least 50 percent of it,” Bowen said. “There is a dearth of leadership from west of I-65 in both chambers. We don’t need a cluster of leadership from just one particular geographic area.”

That would be eastern Kentucky — the home region of Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook.

Bowen’s second reason is his sense that it’s time for a change in Senate leadership. Many from both sides of the aisle have predicted a “different tone” in the state Senate following the departure of Williams who often clashed with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and the Democratic House as well as Democratic senators.

“I think it’s just a season of change,” Bowen said.

Leeper would also pose both a change in Senate tradition as well as giving western Kentucky a key leadership role.

Leeper is from about as far west in the state as you can get and still reside this side of the Mississippi River. He originally ran for and was elected to the Senate as a Democrat, then switched registration and was re-elected as a Republican.

He later changed his registration once again, this time to independent and still won re-election, though he continued to caucus with Republicans.

Leeper is respected on both sides of the aisle for his candor and sincerity. He gets along with his colleagues from both parties. But it might be difficult for Republicans to vote for someone outside their party.

Leeper concedes that may be a psychological hurdle for some Republicans and he’s specifically addressed the question with other senators whose votes he’s seeking.

“Some are comfortable with it, some aren’t,” Leeper said of the idea of voting for an independent.

“But I’m as conservative as anyone in the party, I’m as conservative as or more conservative than anyone in the caucus,” he said.

Leeper said he isn’t “slating” with candidates for any of the other offices. Nor has Leeper heard a third candidate might enter the race for Senate President, hoping to offer himself or herself as a compromise between Stivers and himself.

Givens said he remains committed to running for Majority Leader and said he’s “very well pleased with the reactions I’ve gotten from caucus members.”

He also said he has “tremendous respect” for Thayer and is looking “forward to all of these leadership races being over so we can begin to come together as caucus and begin doing the people’s work.”

Challengers to Republican Whip Carroll Gibson, R-Leitchfield, seem to be lining up. Sen. Jimmy Higdon, D-Lebanon, confirmed Tuesday he will seek that post.

There were also reports that Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, and Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, are considering challenging Gibson. CNHI left messages seeking comment from both but was unable to reach either man by press time.

The current President Pro Tempore, Sen. Katie Kratz Stine, R-Southgate, plans to seek re-election and so far no one has publicly announced an intention to challenge her.

Even if no others enter leadership races, there are still implications for other senators and committee assignments. Two key committees are presently without chairmen. The chairmen of the Education Committee (Ken Winters, R-Murray) and Judiciary (Tom Jensen, R-London) did not seek re-election.

Judiciary presented a special dilemma. While there is no requirement its chair be an attorney, traditionally an attorney from the majority party holds the chair. The committee handles often times controversial and critical legislation and its chairman usually works hand in hand with leadership.

After Williams left, Stivers and Stine were the only Republican attorneys left in the Senate before last Tuesday’s election. But two Republican attorneys, Stan Humphries and Whitney Westerfield, won election Tuesday.

And two Republican attorneys, Rep. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, and David Cross, R-Albany, are seeking nomination for a special election to succeed Williams as Senator from the 16th District. (The district is heavily Republican and Democrats aren’t given much chance of capturing the seat.)

Whether he wins or loses his quest to become Senate President, Leeper is unlikely to continue as chairman of the powerful Appropriations and Revenue Committee. It’s hard to envision Stivers rewarding Leeper with that job after Leeper challenged his election.

The offices of President and President Pro Tem are constitutional offices elected by the body rather than by their party. But as a matter of practice, the majority party settles on one candidate for each office after internal elections and possesses enough votes to elect those even without support from the minority party.

Republicans will gather Dec. 13 and 14 to elect their officers and candidates.

RONNIE  ELLISs writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Tensions rise among city commission members

    The controversy about City Manager Ben Bitter’s moving expenses revealed a division in the Ashland Board of City Commissioners.

    July 29, 2014

  • ambulance.jpg Ambulance flips on Winchester

     One minor injury was reported after a passenger car collided with an ambulance at the intersection in front of the Paramount Arts Center on Winchester Avenue around 10 a.m. Tuesday. Independent videographer Adam Black witnessed the accident and reported the ambulance was traveling south of Winchester with lights on and siren activated when it was struck in the rear quarter panel by a passenger vehicle that had a green light for the intersection and failed to yield for the emergency vehicle.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0730Grimes_080.jpg Grimes campaign comes to Lexington

    A recent poll that has twice previously shown Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with a slim lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell now has McConnell up by two points.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • U.S. 60 yard sale will be Friday and Saturday

    Bringing bargain shoppers from miles around, the U.S. 60 Yard Sale officially begins Friday morning in Carter County.

    July 29, 2014

  • John Cannon: Bracing to stand on her own 2 feet: 7/30/14

    My youngest granddaughter, who will turn 5 on Sept. 2, has been fitted with a pair of ankle braces to help prevent her from falling down so often.

    July 29, 2014

  • War firearms demo set

    A few of the most devastating and accurate firearms used in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to world wars will be demonstrated for an audience limited to about 40 during an upcoming event sponsored by the Eastern Kentucky Military Historical Society.

    July 29, 2014

  • Lawmaker pays tribute to late WWII veteran

    July 29, 2014

  • Local briefs: 7/30/14

    The Carter County Sheriff's Department charged an Olive Hill man Thursday with trafficking in a controlled substance in the first degree.

    July 29, 2014

  • OLBH receives Quest Award

    Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital has been honored by Premier Inc. with a Quest Award for High-value Healthcare Citation of Merit for delivering high-quality, cost-effective health care.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0730Grimes_406.jpg Grimes bus tour gets rousing sendoff

    A recent poll,which has twice previously shown Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with a slim lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, now has McConnell up by two points.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone