Democrats to consider making state chairman a full-time job

06/16/2010 03:56 PM

The Kentucky Democratic Party will select a new chairman on Saturday and also will consider a measure to make that position a full-time, paid job rather than a volunteer post.

If the party’s state central executive committee approves the change in the party’s budget, it would give the Democratic Party the same type of structure the Republican Party of Kentucky has, which has had more stability in its chairmen.

I think it gives us someone who can then focus 100 percent of their time … It adds a little more umph for the job,” said Bath County Judge-Executive Carolyn Belcher, who is vice-chairman of the party.

Belcher said she favors the proposal to make the chairmanship a paying position that incorporates the duties of being a public face for the party, chief organizer and manager of the staff. In recent years, the party has had a paid executive director to handle day-to-day operation.

Charles B. Wells, one of the central executive committee members, said he thought the switch was “a great idea.”

“It should have happened a long time ago,” he said. “If you’re going to have a full-time party, you’ve got to have a full-time chairman.”

Belcher said the volunteer chairmen in recent years have “been committed and done an excellent job” but they also had to make a living elsewhere, such as in private law practices or, in the case, of 2007 chairman Jonathan Miller, as state treasurer.

At Saturday’s meeting, Gov. Steve Beshear is expected to announce Daniel Logsdon, his deputy chief of staff, as his pick for the chairmanship. The central executive committee, made up of Democratic activists from across the state, must ratify his selection.

Logsdon, if approved, would be the seventh chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party since June 2003. During that same time period, the Republican Party had four full-time chairmen: Ellen Williams, John McCarthy, Darrell Brock Jr. and Steve Robertson.

Jennifer Moore, a Louisville lawyer who served as party chairman during 2008, received a stipend to cover expenses but not a full salary. She said she supports making the chairmanship a paid position, as it used to be before 2003 when the Democrats held the governor’s office.

“To me, it is a full-time position,” she said.  “I did it as a full time position, but I also maintained my law practice so I basically had two full-time jobs and no life.”

- Ryan Alessi

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