House Republican leadership elections taking shape

11/14/2014 07:53 PM

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: House Republicans are dusting off their suits and preparing for an internal election after falling short in their efforts to take the majority in the state House of Representatives.

The GOP picked up four seats in the 2014 election season to return to their previous numbers after losing members to redistricting and legislative retirements. The caucus needed a gain of nine seats in the election to take the chamber but fell short to Democrats, who hold a 54-46 majority.

House Minority Floor Leader Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, says there are three main reasons Republicans did not take the chamber. Those include, he said, redistricting, being outspent by Democrats despite raising and spending $1.2 million for the races, and candidate recruitment.

With the general election behind him Hoover says he will make his case to his caucus that he is still the man to lead them in their endeavors.

“I intend to run again. I’ve talked to many members of our caucus and feel good about moving forward. Obviously we have some unfinished business to take care of and I do intend to seek the position,” Hoover said in a phone interview with Pure Politics Friday.

Hoover said members have expressed disappointment in not taking control of the state House, which has been in Democratic power since 1921, but he does not feel that means he will be ousted from the position.

“I hear from members that share in the frustration and disappointment that I have that we did not reach majority status, and as in any election when you don’t reach your goal or don’t get where you think where you had a chance to get about what went right what went wrong and what could have been done better,” Hoover said.

At this time no one has mounted a challenge against Hoover for the position.

Caucus chair:

Rep. Bob DeWeese, R-Louisville, has been the GOP caucus chair since 2001, but if he intends to run again he will face a challenge from Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect.

Osborne said he has made his intent to run for the position known, but it’s not a signal of ill will on his part — or anyone else who is mounting a bid for leadership this term.

“I don’t get the impression that anybody is mad at anybody. I think that there are people who feel like they have something to offer,” Osborne said. “The reason that I have decided to run is that I feel like I have something to bring to the table.”

“It’s not necessarily running against people as much as it is that you believe you bring something to the table.”

Osborne played a big role behind the scenes for Republicans in the 2014 election cycle, and he says he wants to keep the work up. He added that he backs Hoover “100 percent” in his current role of minority leader.

DeWeese did not return calls seeking comment for this report.

In an interview at the Republican Party of Kentucky’s executive committee meeting, Osborne called DeWeese “a mentor” and said the two have discussed the leadership position. Osborne said he will continue to talk with DeWeese about the caucus chairmanship before leadership elections.

Minority whip:

The race that is really budding for House Republicans is the position of minority whip, a post currently held by Rep. Bam Carney of Campbellsville.

Carney told Pure Politics he is seeking the position again, but he has been contacted by several other legislators who are making their plans known to seek the leadership spot.

“Obviously caucus members when they see what all has gone on over the last two years they’ll know — none of them have asked me to be somewhere or get something that I’ll be there,” Carney said.

“I also understand people are frustrated that we didn’t pick up more seats and some see it as an opportunity to represent their areas, so I totally understand that. We’ll just go through the process and have the election and see how they come out.”

There are three others who say they are also seeking the position of whip: Reps. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green, Sal Santoro of Florence and Ken Upchurch of Monticello.

DeCesare first told WBKO in Bowling Green that he was going to run for the internal leadership role.

“I’ve shown that I’m willing to do the things to help move our caucus forward, whether it’s the campaigning part of it or through the legislative policy part of it,” DeCesare told Pure Politics Friday.

“I’m able to work with folks when I need to and I’m ready to take the fight to them as well.”

Santoro said members have encouraged him to run for the post, and he said he has what it takes to fill the role of minority whip for the Republican caucus.

“They like my style and my ability to work to get our caucus members together and to keep up the fight for the Republican caucus,” Santoro said.

And Santoro said he expects an active campaign amongst members for the position.

“Knowing our Republican cohorts it will be very active. We are all in it because we all fight for our party principles,” Santoro said.

Upchurch did not return a call seeking comment.

Two other members, Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger and Rep. Michael Meredith of Brownsville, say they’re considering a run for the post, but are leaning towards not entering the field at this point.

Caucus elections are held the first week lawmakers return to Frankfort in 2015.

Interview with Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect, by political reporter Kevin Wheatley.


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