Senate Republicans decided Friday to put a woman in leadership for the first time since 2014 and keep Damon Thayer of Georgetown as their floor leader.
After a two-hour, closed meeting in the Capitol Annex, Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester announced the elected party leaders in the Senate for the next two years.
All the leadership seats were contested, except for Stiver’s. Vote results in each election were not released. Legislative leaders control the flow of legislation and make committee appointments.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville will be majority caucus chair, replacing Dan Seum of Louisville. Adams will step down as chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
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She is the first woman in leadership position in the Senate since 2014 when Katie Stine of Southgate in Northern Kentucky was president pro tem.
Stivers noted that Senate Republicans have had more women in leadership than Senate Democrats have.
Thayer, who has been majority floor leader for six years, was challenged by Brandon Smith of Hazard, who formerly has served as majority whip.
Stivers said David Givens of Greensburg will be Senate president pro tem — a position he held until June 2017 when he stepped aside for a family matter. Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon, who has been occupying the role, backed Givens’ return.
Mike Wilson of Bowling Green will return as majority whip. He turned back a challenge from Wil Schroder of Wilder.
Stivers said Senate Republican leaders next week will make committee appointments. Two committee chairs will be vacant — Adams’ Health and Welfare and State and Local Government, which has been headed by retiring Joe Bowen of Owensboro.
Senate Republicans plan to hold a retreat Nov. 28-30 at Cumberland Falls State Park to prepare for the 2019 General Assembly that begins Jan. 8.
House Republicans plan to hold their leadership elections Nov. 29.
They said they will not publicly release who is running for leadership positions, but Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence said Friday he will run for majority floor leader. That position was left vacant with the primary election defeat last May of Jonathan Shell of Lancaster.
“I have put my name in for majority floor leader and I just feel like our party needs my experience,” said Gooch.
He also said Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger and John ”Bam” Carney of Campbellsville also plan to run for majority floor leader.
Senate and House Democrats, who are in the minority in their chambers, have not yet scheduled leadership elections.