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Beshear sets special election for state House seat

FRANKFORT –Gov. Steve Beshear has set a special election for Feb. 12 to fill the unexpired state House term of Republican Sara Beth Gregory, who won a special election last month for a state Senate seat.

Party officials in the House’s 52nd District in south-central Kentucky will choose nominees for next month’s special election. The district includes Wayne and McCreary counties and a part of Pulaski County.

Gregory, 30, of Monticello, had joined the House in 2011. Her House term runs through the end of this year. She won a special election last month to fill the 16th Senate District seat left vacant by the resignation of David Williams.

Williams, who was president of the state Senate, resigned to accept a circuit judge appointment by Beshear.

The 16th Senate District includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties.

–Jack Brammer

Sara Beth Gregory wins election to fill David Williams’ state Senate seat

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – State Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello won a special election Tuesday to fill the state Senate seat in south-central Kentucky left vacant by the resignation of David Williams.

Gregory easily turned back a challenge from Democrat Bill Conn, a Williamsburg teacher, to capture the 16th Senate District seat, which includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties.

In an unofficial count, Gregory had about 80 percent of the vote.

Senate budget chairman Leeper seeks Senate presidency

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Another state senator has entered the race for president of the Kentucky Senate.

Senate Appropriations and Revenue Chairman Bob Leeper, an independent from Paducah who usually sides with Republicans, said Thursday that he is seeking the position left vacant by the recent resignation of David Williams.

Williams, who was Senate president since 2000, resigned last week to accept an appointment by Gov. Steve Beshear to a circuit judgeship in south-central Kentucky.

Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said last week that he is hoping to run unopposed for Senate president.

Leeper, a chiropractor, said Thursday in a telephone interview that he has “no problems” with Stivers, “I just want to give members a choice.”

Senate President David Williams appointed to judgeship in Southern Ky.

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer — bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Senate President David Williams, a Republican reviled by the Democrats he has stymied for nearly 13 years, will resign his post Nov. 2 to accept a judicial appointment by Gov. Steve Beshear.

In a widely anticipated move, the Democratic governor selected his longtime political foe Friday to fill an open circuit court judgeship in Southern Kentucky.

The Burkesville Republican’s appointment leaves a void in Republican Senate leadership for the first time since Republicans assumed control of the Senate in 2000.

Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said late in the day he had contacted Senate Republicans to inform them that he will pursue the presidency if the GOP remains the majority party in the Senate after the Nov. 6 elections.

Stivers said he did not advise Williams about the judicial position, “but I wish him the very best.”

David Williams nominated for judgeship; says he will accept if appointed

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Senate President David Williams, who has bedeviled Democrats in the Capitol for more than a decade, might vacate his office in coming days.

A seven-member judicial nominating commission recommended the longtime Republican lawmaker and two other lawyers Thursday for an open circuit court seat in Williams’ district in Southern Kentucky.

“I am appreciative of the nomination and if the governor appoints me, I will accept the position,” Williams said in a statement.

The nominating commission met Thursday morning in Burkesville for a little less than an hour. The two other people recommended for the job are Angela M. Capps, a public defender, and Stephen Douglas Hurt, a retired district court judge.

Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, has 60 days to appoint one of the three nominees to the open seat in the 40th Circuit, which covers Cumberland, Clinton and Monroe counties. A spokeswoman for Beshear did not say when the governor plans to make an appointment.

Williams willing to consider judicial appointment; Beshear appoints nominating commission

UPDATED AT 4:46 P.M.

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

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.

Beshear does not rule out possibility of appointing Williams to judicial seat

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday he’s willing to consider Senate President David Williams, a longtime political foe, as a candidate for an open judicial seat in Williams’ Southern Kentucky district.

Beshear said it is still too early to say if he would appoint Williams to the seat in Cumberland, Clinton and Monroe counties. He noted that a nominating commission would have to first recommend the Republican lawmaker for the spot held by Circuit Judge Eddie Lovelace, who died last week after reportedly suffering a stroke.

“It is obviously premature for me to comment on any particular name,” Beshear said. “But I will consider every candidate put forward by the nominating committees.”

The Democratic governor’s comments came while answering reporters’ questions during a Capitol news conference about an unrelated topic.

Grimes proposes email voting for overseas soldiers, gets support from legislative leaders

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes proposed Wednesday to let Kentucky soldiers who are overseas vote by email.

Her plan was endorsed immediately by Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda that attracted dozens of veterans.

Williams, R-Burkesville, said he would make Grimes’ recommendation Senate Bill 1 in the 2013 General Assembly and urge the chamber to pass it quickly. Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the proposal “will receive a very good reception in the House.”

Grimes was one of five secretaries of state across the nation who was in the Middle East last week to help the military with voting procedures.

Richie Farmer and former wife testify at child-support hearing; no immediate court decision

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A judge did not make an immediate decision Thursday morning in former state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s request to lower child support payment for his three sons after nearly an hour-long hearing.

Franklin Family Court Judge Squire Williams said he would take the issue “under advisement” and enter an order as soon as possible.

Both Farmer, who used a walker after undergoing hip replacement surgery Aug. 30, and his former wife, Rebecca Ann Farmer, testified at the hearing. She filed for divorce in April 2011, and it was finalized in July.

Farmer is asking the court to reduce his $1,227 a month payment to support their children.

Statement says Senate President Williams and wife, Robyn Williams, will file for divorce

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Senate President David Williams and his wife, Robyn Williams, will be filing for divorce.

Both released a statement Monday about their marriage without elaboration. It was released in an email by Williams’ spokeswoman, Lourdes Baez-Schrader.

Williams said in a statement, “Robyn has decided to take her life in a different direction. I greatly admire her and appreciate the time we have spent together. I wish her only the best in her future endeavors.”

Robyn Williams said in her statement, “Senator Williams and I have filed papers to terminate our marriage. There are always pressures on relationships, and the rough-and-tumble pressures of the full time political world, compounded by the immense pressures of a multi-year gubernatorial campaign, brought unique and incessant pressure on our relationship.

“We have, for the sake of ourselves and our families, decided to part ways amicably. I have the greatest respect for David as a man, a husband, a father and a political leader, and I always will.

“As this current chapter in our lives comes to an end, it is with the fondest reassurance that we begin a new chapter marked mutually by a deep and close friendship. We ask all to respect our privacy and that of our children.”