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December 21, 2011

Williams to remain Senate President

No challenge to any in Republican leadership

FRANKFORT —  All the speculation was apparently misplaced. David Williams, the Burkesville Republican who lost the 2011 governor’s race to incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear, will remain president of the Kentucky State Senate at least for another year.

    Since the election there has been speculation in political circles that Williams, Senate President since 2000, might be replaced. Beshear pummeled Williams by 21 percentage points and some Republicans said Williams should step aside before the 2012 elections. But after a two-day retreat by the Republican Senate caucus, Williams said late Thursday afternoon there had been no challenge to him or any of the other Republican leadership which was elected to a two-year term last year.

    “I’m going to be president for the rest of my term,” said Williams as he left the meeting. “Nobody asked for me to step down or anything.”

    Republicans control the Senate with 22 members to Democrats’ 15. Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah is a registered independent but usually caucuses and votes with Republicans.

    Williams said the caucus discussed “a lot of issues,” including the state budget and other business which will confront lawmakers when the General Assembly convenes in January.

    Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, the caucus chairman, said Republicans “had a great meeting, a long and productive meeting, and David Williams is our president.”

    Seum said there was discussion among the Republican senators about “how we can do things better, things like being more timely, conducting committee meetings on time. That was an issue we thought we could do better on.”

    Williams said he was “being honest” when he said after Beshear’s inauguration that he hopes “in four years to say Steve Beshear is the best governor with whom I have served.” He said he continues to oppose expanded gambling personally but that there is no official Republican Senate caucus position on the issue. He has said before that there may be enough votes in the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment allowing expanded gambling though he won’t vote for it.

    He also said he hopes the General Assembly can complete the task of re-districting state and congressional legislative districts by the end of the first week of the 2012 session.

    Next week will be the House Democrats’ turn. Speaker Greg Stumbo has called a meeting of his caucus for next Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the state budget and Medicaid.

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