House Republicans pick four new members of leadership team

11/30/2016 06:26 PM

FRANKFORT — House Republicans elected four new members of its leadership team on Wednesday as they prepare to assume control of the lower chamber for the first time since 1921.

The 64-member caucus elected Rep. Jonathan Shell, who was unopposed, as its next majority floor leader; Rep. David Osborne as House speaker pro tem; Rep. David Meade as majority caucus chair; and Rep. Kevin Bratcher as majority whip.

The latter three races were contested, but House Speaker-elect Jeff Hoover, who was unanimously elected the incoming speaker Nov. 10, declined to release their margins of victory.

Wednesday’s results yielded an entirely new leadership team under Hoover with House Minority Caucus Chair Stan Lee and House Minority Whip Jim DeCesare not elected to the slate.

“I could not be more excited to work with this outstanding group of individuals who obviously are very well respected by the 64 members of the Republican majority,” Hoover, R-Jamestown, said after the nearly two-hour meeting in the Capitol Annex. “They have chosen them as part of the leadership team, and as I have said before, we have a lot of work in front of us, we have tremendous challenges facing us, but we have even greater opportunities.”

Shell downplayed the significance of his work in recruiting and campaigning for Republican House candidates in this year’s election cycle. He served as chairman of the House Republican Caucus Campaign Committee, created after the 2014 elections.

“There was a group effort taken all across this state, and there was an angst amongst the voters that we have in Kentucky and nationally for change, and so I think that a combination of the recruitment, a combination of the political winds and just a holistic effort of a lot of people that were involved gave us this majority,” said Shell, R-Lancaster.

“It wasn’t Jonathan Shell. It wasn’t Jeff Hoover. It was a whole team effort that we were able to do that, and so whether or not that factored into the leadership race, we’ll see. You can ask them, but as far as I’m concerned I’m ready to start leading this state in the right direction with this team.”

But Hoover said the caucus acknowledged the work that Shell and others on the leadership team put into electoral victories this fall.

“Nobody went to more events and knocked on more doors than Kevin Bratcher,” he said. “I mean, he was in Owensboro. He was in Paducah. He was in Eastern Kentucky. He was in northern Kentucky. He knocked on more doors than any other single Republican caucus member without question, and I think the members appreciated that.”

Bratcher, R-Louisville, is one of two Louisville-area legislators on the House Republican leadership team, along with Osborne, R-Prospect.

They indicated that it showed the importance of the city as an economic engine for the rest of the state.

“As a member of leadership I’ll be looking at the entire state and what’s best for Kentucky as a whole, but there’s no denying that Louisville is a big part of the whole,” Bratcher said.

Osborne said it’s “obvious that Louisville is an economic driver in the state.”

“And we’ve got to make sure that we recognize that and put forth business-friendly policies that will help them thrive and grow,” he said.

Hoover said regional makeup never came up in today’s elections.

No one on the leadership team represents areas further west than Jefferson County or further east than Rockcastle County.

The new slate of GOP leaders will next complete committee assignments and prioritize legislative issues before gaveling in the lower chamber Jan. 3. They plan on holding a three-day leadership retreat at Lake Cumberland before next week’s full caucus retreat, Hoover said.

“There is a long list of things that many of us would like to get done, but realistically, we can’t do all of them in a short legislative session that’s coming up,” he said.

“It would be impossible to get all the things done that folks want us to get done, that we would like to get done, so we’re going to have to establish priorities at that caucus meeting, and we’ll have those discussions,” Hoover continued. “What are the four, maybe five things that we really want to get done and can get done and have the votes to get done this session, and then figure out how to get them done.”

Hoover and Osborne will need to be confirmed by the full House before taking power, a formality with Republicans holding a 64-36 supermajority.


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