FRANKFORT — In addition to running for governor in 2011, Senate President David Williams said Wednesday he has the votes to be re-elected to the chamber's top position when lawmakers select their leaders in January.
But Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said she remains committed to running for the spot and is "very optimistic" about her chances.
Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said it's in Williams' best interests not to be in leadership while running for governor.
"It's never worked in the past," she said, noting efforts in recent years by former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, to run for governor, falling short and then losing his leadership role.
Williams, a Burkesville Republican who has held the Senate's top spot for 10 years while the GOP maintained its majority in the chamber, countered that Denton has only one vote for the presidency — "her own."
Williams said he will not let his bid for governor distract from his work as Senate president.
He added that he wonders whether Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is seeking re-election next year, has been distracted from running government by his three-year campaign to get Democrats to take control of the Senate.
Asked whether Denton's committee chairmanship might be in jeopardy for challenging him, Williams said, "That's a matter for the caucus to decide. I'm not going to get into that. It's too early to talk about committee assignments."
The entire Senate decides who will be president. But the decision is expected to be in the hands of the Republicans because the GOP picked up two seats in Tuesday's elections. That brings the GOP's control to 22-15, with one independent member, Bob Leeper of Paducah, who caucuses with the Republicans.