The Chatter: Democratic House leadership races; Rep. Danny Ford appointed to state post

12/21/2012 05:16 PM

At least two Democratic state representatives are taking on incumbent leaders, the Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus reports.

Loftus wrote that Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, will take on Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville for the job of House speaker pro tem. Clark has held that post since 1994.

Simpson has represented the 65th House District since 1994. He is trying to be the first member of House majority leadership since Jim Callahan served as House Democratic caucus chairman in 2004.

Meanwhile, Rep. Johnny Bell, a Glasgow Democrat first elected to the House in 2006, told Loftus he plans to challenge Rep. Tommy Thompson, an Owensboro Democrat, for the job of House majority whip. Thompson has served for the last two years in that capacity.

House Democrats will choose their leaders when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 8.

*Beshear appoints retiring Republican lawmaker to a state job *

Another legislator is moving to a different — and better paying — government job.

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer reported that Gov. Steve Beshear appointed retiring Rep. Danny Ford of Mt. Vernon to be the surplus property director in the Finance and Administration Cabinet.

Ford will make $85,000, Brammer reported, and he noted Ford is the fourth Republican lawmaker Beshear had appointed to another state job after Republican senators Charlie Borders (Public Service Commission in 2009), Dan Kelly (judgeship in 2009) and David Williams (judgeship in 2012).

Because of a change in the law in 2005, legislators who switch jobs to higher-paying executive or judicial branch jobs can see a sharp increase in their pension calculations. As part of the “reciprocity” clause, they can count their years of legislative service with the highest three years of salary to boost their overall pension checks when they retire.

Beshear has been generous to former Democratic lawmakers, as well. Former state Rep. Roger Thomas has served throughout Beshear’s term as his director of agriculture policy, former Rep. Don Pasley of Winchester works in the transportation department. Other lawmakers hired into state jobs during Beshear’s tenure include Reps. Joe Barrows, Jack Coleman, Frank Rasche and Steve Nunn, a Republican who is now serving prison time for murder.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, another former Republican state representative who won his new position in the 2011 election, appointed one of his former Democratic colleagues, Fred Nesler, to serve in the Ag Department.

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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