Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown attorney who has been in the state House since 1997, will be elected Kentucky’s first Republican speaker of the House of Representatives in 95 years and only the third in Kentucky’s history.
House Republican lawmakers, who wrested control of the House from Democrats in Tuesday’s elections, met behind closed doors Thursday to nominate Hoover as the top leader in the House. The full, 100-member chamber will vote on the position in early January, but the GOP’s numbers in the House — 64 Republicans to 36 Democrats — assure Hoover will win.
“We have tremendous challenges facing us but I like to say we have even greater opportunities,” said Hoover. “We are up to the task.”
Hoover, 56, added that he plans to work closely with the Republican-controlled Senate and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin “to make some decisions that move Kentucky in a new and better direction.”
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Hoover, re-elected Tuesday to his 11th House term, has been House minority floor leader since 2001. He is the longest serving minority floor leader in the state’s history. His late father, Welby Hoover, and late mother, Mae Hoover, were elected to represent the same district he serves, House District 83. It now covers Clinton, Cumberland, Pulaski and Russell counties.
Hoover will replace Democrat Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg, who lost his re-election bid Tuesday after serving as the top House leader since 2009. The last Republican House speaker was Joseph Bosworth of Bell County in 1921.
Hoover said he received a text message from Stumbo congratulating him and telling him that he wished Hoover’s mother was here to see her son’s success.
The full chamber also will elect a speaker pro tem. In addition, the parties will select their own leaders.
House Republicans will elect their leaders on Nov. 30 and will have a caucus retreat Dec. 7-9 to plan their legislative agenda, said Hoover. He also said committee chairs and committee assignments will be named before the session starts and expects there will be contested leadership races.
In response to a question, Hoover said he has not heard from any House Democrat who might be considering switching parties.
As speaker, Hoover said he will “be honest and straight” with the minority party, consider the ideas of all members, start the daily sessions on time and conduct them in an orderly way with less time on introductions of guests, and give members ample time to read legislation before they vote on it.
“It’s not a time to gloat, it’s not a time to be prideful, it’s not a time to be arrogant because we have to govern,” Hoover said.