FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear made appointments Thursday to the nominating commission for an open judicial seat that Republican Senate President David Williams said he would consider taking if Beshear offers it to him.
The appointments mean the commission, which is tentatively scheduled to meet Oct. 26, can start taking applications for the open seat in the Southern Kentucky circuit where Williams lives.
"If there is an appointment offer, Sen. Williams will consider it," said Lourdes Baez-Schrader, a spokeswoman for Williams, in a statement issued earlier Thursday.
The statement was the first time Williams has publicly indicated interest in the 40th Circuit Court seat for Cumberland, Clinton and Monroe counties. The position had been held by Judge Eddie Lovelace, who died unexpectedly in September.
Beshear, who beat Williams in the November 2011 gubernatorial race, has said he would not rule out appointing Williams.
When there is a vacancy in the lower courts, a seven-member judicial nominating commission is appointed to vet potential candidates. That commission then sends three potential candidates to Beshear, who makes the final decision.
Beshear appointed four people Thursday to the commission: Helena Pitcock of Tompkinsville will replace Freddie G. Tooley of Tompkinsville; Steve U. Morgan of Albany will replace Sherry M. Riddle of Burkesville; Gary R. Lee of Burkesville will replace John D. Walden of Tompkinsville; and Jarrett A. Stephens of Tompkinsville will replace Truman J. Morgan of Burkesville.
The terms of all those Beshear replaced had expired. Other members of the committee include Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who is chairman of the group, and Burkesville attorney Catherine Capps. The Kentucky Bar Association may also elect a member.
Leigh Anne Hiatt, a spokeswoman for the state's court system, said the commission is tentatively scheduled to meet Oct. 26.
Williams has been president of the Senate since 2000.
Beth Musgrave: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com