Politics not in play in Sen. Chris McDaniel's ascent in budget committee, but expect to hear about it on the trail

12/09/2014 05:45 PM

FRANKFORT — Senate Republican leaders released committee assignments for their caucus on Monday, naming a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Taylor Mill Republican who’s on a gubernatorial ticket with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, said he was “honored” and “thrilled” to have the trust of his caucus to chair the Senate’s budget committee. He replaces retiring Sen. Bob Leeper, a Paducah independent, and McDaniel said he called Leeper seeking his help in getting up to speed as next year’s legislative session approaches.

He was one of two GOP senators involved in the free conference committee that cobbled together a two-year budget in this year’s session. The other, Sen. David Givens of Greensburg, ran unopposed for the Senate president pro tem leadership post Nov. 25.

“The experience in the last budget negotiations were a tremendous asset in really understanding how a budget comes together and where the commonwealth is investing its funds and how it’s negotiated, and I did express to leadership my interest in the position with Sen. Leeper not returning,” McDaniel told Pure Politics Tuesday. “I was humbled when they had the confidence in me to say that they were going to put me in that position and allow me to take on the task of the commonwealth’s budget.”

One Senate Republican leader said politics weren’t at play in McDaniel’s ascent to the head of the Senate’s budget committee.

Givens credited McDaniel with having “a good grasp” of financial challenges facing state government in this year’s budget talks, particularly regarding public pension’s and the state’s push to invest in broadband.

Givens said GOP leaders would have selected McDaniel as chairman of the appropriations and revenue committee if he wasn’t running for lieutenant governor. He called McDaniel “a very, very good choice” for the chairmanship.

“The leadership, under the guidance of (Senate) President (Robert) Stivers, made that selection with each of us naming names and listing folks, and Sen. McDaniel’s name just kept coming to the top each time,” Givens told Pure Politics in a phone interview.

Senate leaders had two guiding principles in selecting committee assignments, according to Givens: members of leadership should not chair committees nor should chairpersons serve on the budget panel.

“You pretty quickly winnowed the field down if your guided by those principles as you make a decision, and in my mind there was no regard or disregard given to his interest as a lieutenant governor candidate,” Givens said.

Even though McDaniel’s candidacy played no role in his selection as budget committee chairman and he said he wouldn’t use the position for political gain, he expects to highlight the new post as he and Comer campaign throughout the state before the GOP gubernatorial primary in May.

“We’ll make note that it’s something that I do, but no different than I serve on military and veterans affairs and licensing and occupations and so many other committees,” McDaniel said. “The people of the commonwealth deserve to know the resume, the background and the qualifications of the people that they’re electing, and I think that will be an important part of the narrative.”

Other top committee assignments for Senate Republicans include:

  • Sen.-elect Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee
  • Sen. Albert Robinson of London, chair of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee
  • Sen. Stan Humphries of Cadiz, vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee
  • Sen.-elect Ralph Alvarado of Winchester, vice-chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee
  • Sen.-elect C.B. Embry of Morgantown, vice-chair of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee
  • Sen. Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield, vice-chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Sen.-elect Max Wise of Campbellsville, vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee
  • Sen.-elect Wil Schroder of Wilder, vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, vice-chair of the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee
  • Sen. Brandon Smith of Hazard, vice-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee
Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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