Another name enters speaker pro tem race as Rep. Darryl Owens expresses interest

11/14/2014 04:50 PM

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark announced he would not seek reelection to Democratic leadership more than 48 hours ago, and already another name has entered a growing field of potential replacements.

Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, told Pure Politics Friday he plans to seek the post in January’s leadership elections. This will be his first push for a leadership position, he said.

Owens joins Rep. Dennis Keene of Wilder, Rep. Denny Butler of Louisville and Rep. Jeff Greer of Brandenburg is expressing interest in the position.

Owens, chairman of the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and vice chairman of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources and the House Judiciary Committee, said he would bring a different perspective to Democratic leadership.

“I think I’m going to bring some new energy, some new ideas to the leadership team,” he said in a phone interview with Pure Politics.

He also believes he can help the caucus in fundraising, he said.

Owens has already reached out to some for their support, but he did not know how many would back him since Clark, D-Louisville, just announced the soon-to-be vacancy on Wednesday.

“I know I need 28,” Owens quipped. “That’s what I’m shooting for.”

Like Butler, Owens said Jefferson County House Democrats plan to coalesce behind one speaker pro tem candidate from Louisville. Owens, chairman of the Jefferson County House Democratic delegation, said a caucus meeting planned for Saturday has been postponed until Dec. 3.

Owens and Butler aren’t the only Louisville Democrats who have an eye on the race, as Owens said Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, may be interested as well. Riggs, chairman of the House Local Government Committee and vice chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee, could not be reached for comment.

Having a Jefferson County Democrat in House leadership is pivotal, Owens said.

“We’re the largest county in the state,” he said. “We’re the economic engine of the state. Most of the policies we make are going to impact Louisville and Jefferson County, and I think it’s very important that somebody from Jefferson County be on the leadership team.”

The field of Democrats in the speaker pro tem race is a moving target. Owens said he’d received a text message Friday that Greer was out of the race, a rumor the Brandenburg Democrat dismissed.

“That is totally incorrect,” Greer told Pure Politics. “Once I threw my hat in the ring, I’ll be in it to win it and in it till the end.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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