House leadership races: Clark over Richards and new whips for both caucuses

01/04/2011 03:50 PM

FRANKFORT — Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, will keep his job as House Speaker pro tem after turning back a bid by Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green to return to the House leadership team on which he served for 22 years.

The 56 House Democrats who make up the majority caucus also picked Rep. Tommy Thompson of Owensboro as Democratic whip over the incumbent, Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty.

The nomination of Clark for Speaker pro tem position was the biggest race decided by the 56 lawmakers who make up the Democratic House caucus. They aunanimously re-nominated Rep. Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg — who went un-challenged — to be House Speaker and picked Clark over Richards as Speaker pro tem.

Clark has served since 1993 as Speaker Pro Tem — the person who presides over the chamber when the Speaker of the House steps away from the podium.

He was facing perhaps his toughest challenge after rankling some Democrats and a few unions last year with some of his statements and positions on legislation, such as blocking a bill backed by Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom that would have allowed bourbon tasting at select public events.

Clark also faced a big-name challenger in Richards, who spent four two-year terms as House Democratic caucus chairman before being elected House Speaker in 1995. He want on to become the longest-serving House Speaker in Kentucky history. Stumbo defeated Richards for that post in January 2009.

The rest of the House Democratic leadership team

Also Tuesday afternoon, the House Democrats picked Rep. Tommy Thompson of Owensboro as whip, giving western Kentucky Democrats a voice in the leadership team for the first time in two years.

Thompson defeated Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, in a rematch of the 2009 whip’s race that Stacy narrowly won.

In legislatures, the whip position is generally responsible for counting votes. But in practice in Kentucky, the whips’ duties aren’t that defined.

Running unopposed for another term in leadership were Rep. Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook, who has been the Democratic floor leader since 2003, and Rep. Bob Damron of Nicholasville, who has served as Democratic caucus chairman from 2005-2006 and again since 2009.

House Republican leadership

In the minority caucus, the 44 House Republicans elected Rep. Danny Ford of Mount Vernon back to a leadership position as their whip and re-elected Rep. Jeff Hoover of Jamestown as their floor leader and Rep. Bob DeWeese of Louisville as caucus chairman.

Ford returns to the minority leadership team where he previously served as Republican floor leader from 1995 to 2000 and minority whip from 1994 to 1996.

He defeated Rep. Brad Montell of Shelbyville for the whip position, which has been a revolving door over the few years. Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown held the post for the last two years. He was not nominated for whip this time, Hoover said.

Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington had the position from 2007-2009 and former Rep. Ken Upchurch of Monticello had it before that.

Hoover, meanwhile, won election for his sixth term as minority floor leader, which is a record and unties him with former Rep. William Harold DeMarcus, who was minority floor leader from 1970 to 1980.

DeWeese also returns as House Republican caucus chairman, a post he’s held since 2001. He turned back a challenge from Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green.

Last month, both Montell and DeCesare told cn|2 Politics last month that they were running for caucus chairman. Each said he wanted to bring his voice to the leadership team. But Montell, instead, was nominated for whip on Tuesday, Hoover said.

Hoover said the leadership races were conducted by secret ballot so vote totals were not available.

- Reporting by Kenny Colston


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