Caucus leaders chosen in each chamber

capitolAfter their first day back in Frankfort Tuesday, lawmakers in the state House held caucus meetings to select their leaders which ended with some holding on to their seats and some new faces joining leadership teams.

State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, held on to his position of House Minority Leader after facing a challenge from Republican colleague Adam Koenig of Erlanger. Hoover’s re-election in the secret ballot contest means the 2015 session will be his eighth consecutive term in the top spot.

Of the members of the GOP leadership team, Hoover was the only one to run again as former caucus chair Bob DeWeese, R-Louisville, and minority whip John “Bam” Carney of Campbellsville each decided not to seek another term in their positions.

Replacing DeWeese, Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, was elected by his colleagues as caucus chair—ending up with more votes than Rep. David Osborne of Prospect for the position.

Beating out a crowded field, Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green was elected as the new minority whip. Others who were seeking the leadership position included northern Kentucky Representative Sal Santoro of Florence and Rep. Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello.

As for the majority party in the chamber, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, will serve another term in his position after being unchallenged. Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins was also re-elected after not facing a challenge to his post.

A former House Speaker, Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green, was elected back into the caucus leadership as House Speaker Pro Tem. Richards’ victory came after a runoff with Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder as well as the elimination of other Democratic hopefuls including Rep. Daryl Owens of Louisville and Rep. Jeff Greer of Brandenburg. Richards replaces outgoing Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark.

The one incumbent leader to lose their position in the elections was Rep. Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, who was defeated in his re-election race for majority whip by Rep. Johnny Bell of Glasgow.

Before the start of the 2015 session, leaders in the Senate chamber were elected in December.

After the defeat of former state Sen. RJ Palmer of Winchester in the 2014 elections, Senate Democrats elected Sen. Ray Jones as Democratic Floor Leader.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, replaced Sen. Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg as caucus chair in the December elections while former governor and current Senator Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, replaced retiring Senator Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, as caucus whip.

In the Republican caucus, Senate President Robert Stivers will serve another term in his leadership position after being unchallenged. Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown and Republican Caucus Chair Dan Seum also did not face challenges to their positions in the leadership elections held in November.

The two new faces of Senate Republican leadership are Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, for the chamber’s No. 2 position of president pro tem, and Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon as majority whip.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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