Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers is already getting plenty of vocal support as the likely successor to David Williams as Senate president, days after Williams said he was resigning to take a circuit judge position.
Stivers told The Courier-Journal that he is interested in seeking the Senate presidency and he thinks he has the votes to win.
Stivers, who has been majority floor leader since 2009, is seeking re-election to his District 25 Senate seat against Democratic challenger Ralph Hoskins.
"Upon getting re-elected, I will definitely seek the position of the president of the Senate," Stivers said.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday that Williams was appointed to fill the two years remaining in the term of southern Kentucky Circuit Judge Eddie Lovelace, who died in September. To keep the seat, Williams would have to run when it comes up for election in 2014. Beshear, a Democrat, defeated Williams, a Republican, to win reelection a year ago.
Even though the next Senate president won't be elected until January, Republicans and Democrats alike were assuming that Stivers would get the job.
"It will be Robert Stivers, in my opinion. I think it's pretty well given," said Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. "... If there is anyone opposing that, they haven't said anything to me."
"I have great confidence in Robert's ability to lead this group," said Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg.
Sen. Dan Seum, the Republican caucus chairman, said they expect to informally choose Williams' successor during meetings in December in Frankfort.
Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, said Democrats hope for a better working relationship with Stivers than they had with Williams.
Williams has been at odds with Democrats on budget issues, which led to stalemates, special legislative sessions and consternation of Democratic governors and House leaders.
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he plans to run for majority leader if Stivers leaves.
"Our caucus will continue to stand strong on conservative, Republican principles," he said. "But we do have a chance to change the tone and the way we interact with each other, the way we interact with the House and the way we interact with the executive branch."
Rhoads said he hopes some of the past problems can be overcome under new leadership.
"I've always gotten along well with Robert and I think, as majority floor leader, at least on the floor, he was fair and not overly partisan," Rhoads said. "I think it's the things that happen off the floor that cause the problems. ... I'm going to be optimistic about that."