On Camera: Lawmakers explain what went on behind closed doors in leadership races

01/04/2011 07:04 PM

FRANKFORT — After emerging from private caucus meetings to elect their leaders, key lawmakers from the House and Senate told reporters what happened, their priorities now and how they expect this session to go.

In the Senate, the newly-elected Democratic floor leader, R.J. Palmer of Winchester, said he expects to be a bipartisan-minded, mild-mannered leader for the 15 Senate Democrats.  He said he wants the Senate Democrats to have a leader who can work with Senate Republicans, House Democrats and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear:

Sen. Julian Carroll, the former governor, had been a potential challenger for Palmer for the open minority leader position left vacant when Ed Worley decided not to seek re-election last fall.

But Carroll eventually dropped out of the leadership race. He said Republican Senate President David Williams, who also running for governor, loomed large in the Democrats’ race and was the reason Carroll withdrew as a candidate for floor leader.

Carroll said his Democratic caucus members felt that a vote for Carroll for a leadership post would draw punishment from Williams:

(The Senate Republicans settled their leadership races after the November 2010 elections, choosing to keep the current leadership team the same.)

In the House, both Democrats and Republicans choose to replace their whips.

The incoming majority whip, Democratic Rep. Tommy Thompson of Owensboro said being elected by the caucus was an honor and that his geographic location played a part in his campaign for whip because western Kentucky went two years without a voice in the five-man Democratic leadership team. Here’s Thompson’s reaction:

House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg, who was re-nominated without opposition, said that the Democratic House caucus also voted during their meeting to support Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in a “hoo-rah” vote. Last month, Stumbo managed only tepid support of Beshear during an interview on Pure Politics.

But on Tuesday, he had this to say:

In the House Republican caucus, Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown was elected to a record sixth straight term and explained how one representative who had campaigned for caucus chair ended up in the minority whip leadership race:

-Reporting and videos produced by Kenny Colston

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