Herald-Leader Editorial

Will new Senate leaders break the rancor ranks?

New leadership has opportunity

December 5, 2012 

Senate Republican leaders: President Robert Stivers, left, and Majority Leader Damon Thayer

No one expects the balance of political power in the state Capitol to shift dramatically with former Senate President David Williams now presiding over a courtroom.

The Republicans who control the Senate will still be committed to their party's principles and priorities. Gov. Steve Beshear and his fellow Democrats who control the House will remain committed to their state party's principles and priorities (which don't necessarily agree with national Democratic thinking).

And the two sides will still lock horns at times when their parties' principles and priorities clash.

But the change many hope to see now that Senate Republicans have elected new leaders is a reduction in the level of rancor that marked those inevitable clashes during Williams'12 years as president. While there is blame enough to go around for all the heated exchanges (which became intensely personal during the Beshear years) and the repeated budgetary gridlock, Williams' confrontational style was the one constant in a period that spanned three gubernatorial administrations and portions of two House speakers' tenures.

Senate Republican leaders (President Robert Stivers, who moved up from majority leader; two newcomers, Majority Leader Damon Thayer and Whip Brandon Smith; and two holdovers, President Pro Tem Katie Stine and Caucus Chairman Dan Seum) represent the major change in the equation going forward. If future negotiations over differences between the two parties and the two chambers can be conducted with less heat, less chest-thumping and less name-calling, much of the credit inevitably will go to them.

Even though the balance of political power will remain the same for at least the next couple of years, they have an opportunity to immediately change the political dynamics in Frankfort in a major way, if they choose to.

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