Denton drops Senate president bid against Williams just before GOP takes vote

11/06/2010 10:22 AM

State Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican, decided to halt her internal leadership challenge to Senate President David Williams just an hour before Senate Republicans were scheduled to huddle behind closed doors to vote on it.

Denton issued a statement from her private account saying she is “withdrawing my request to be considered for Senate President.”

“I want the caucus to be unified in January,” the statement said. “I will continue to focus my attention on serving my constituents and serving the Commonwealth.”

A Republican who was helping Denton confirmed that the e-mail as legitimate and Denton was stepping aside.

Williams caught some by surprise by calling for the caucus to gather Saturday to take the vote before the Republican Party’s state central committee meeting in Elizabethtown. Usually, leadership votes are taken during the Senate Republicans’ retreat in December.

It was so sudden that some senators, such as Tom Buford of Nicholasville, were out of town and had to e-mail their votes in.

Among those who did show up at the Saturday morning event include Sens. Katie Stine, the senate president pro-tem, Dan Seum of Louisville, who is the caucus chairman and Robert Stivers of Manchester – the GOP’s floor leader – were there.

UPDATE from Elizabethtown 11:06 a.m.: Those three, along with Williams and GOP Senate Whip Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield, were re-elected to their leadership posts.

Also present were newly-elected senators Joe Bowen of Owensboro and Jared Carpenter of Richmond, as well as Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, who survived a close race to retain her 12th District seat in Lexington, and  Sens. Ken Winters of Murray, Damon Thayer of Georgetown, David Givens of Greensburg.

The vote would have taken place behind closed doors in the Best Western Hotel with Williams’ campaign bus for governor parked behind it. Williams is running with Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer in the 2011 primary for governor. Republican aides handed out Williams-Farmer stickers to the GOP activists at the meeting.

Williams needed to get the internal challenge for Senate President behind him to put that to rest and move forward with the gubernatorial campaign without speculation about the internal challenge, Buford said in an interview Friday.

- Ryan Alessi with additional reporting from Elizabethtown by Kenny Colston

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