Joe Bowen joins crowded Senate leadership races with bid for GOP caucus chairman

11/12/2012 10:47 PM

The Kentucky state Senate is bracing for its biggest shakeup in more than a decade, especially among the majority Republicans who now have contested races for all but one leadership post.

No fewer than nine Republican senators — 40 percent of the current GOP caucus — are vying for four jobs. So far, only Sen. Katie Stine of Southgate appears to be unopposed in her re-election bid as Senate president pro tem.

Sen. Joe Bowen, the Owensboro Republican who is in the middle of his first four-year term in the Senate, is the latest to join the fray. He sent a letter to his fellow Republican senators Monday announcing his candidacy for Senate Republican caucus chairman. Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville has held that job since 2007.

Bowen said in an interview with Pure Politics that he informed Seum first of his intent to run and that it wasn’t a reflection of the job Seum had done. Bowen said his main platform is that the areas west of I-65 need greater representation among legislative leaders.

Bowen said he doesn’t plan to form a slate with other senators vying for leadership races. And he said he hopes the election process, which is scheduled to be conducted during the Republican retreat Dec. 13-14, will be done by secret ballot.

“The folks that I’ve talked to all support secret ballot,” Bowen said. “You don’t want hard feelings. My expectation is that it will be an open and democratic process.”

David Williams departure from the senate presidency — and the Senate to take a judgeship — has set into motion the biggest shakeup since Republicans first took control of the chamber in 2000 after Seum and Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah switched parties from being Democrats, giving the GOP its first majority.

Here is the list so far of candidates for Senate Republican leadership nominations (Senate president and president pro-tem are elected by the full Senate, so the nominees from the majority party will be the presumptive winners):

SENATE PRESIDENT
Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester
Sen. Bob Leeper, I-Paducah

SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM
Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate

REPUBLICAN FLOOR LEADER
Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown

REPUBLICAN CAUCUS CHAIRMAN
Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville
Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro

REPUBLICAN WHIP
Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon
Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green
Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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