| Tomorrow, Democratic House members will vote on who will lead them in the next two years. In one corner, veteran Speaker Jody Richards. In the other, former attorney general Greg Stumbo.
Richards is clearly the better choice for Speaker. We may be prejudiced in our choice of a West Kentuckian. But we don’t think so. We have gigabytes of pictures of Richards working for candidates.
Alas, we cannot find one of Greg Stumbo working for any candidate other than himself.
Those who were around Frankfort during the 2008 session remember that Rep. Stumbo worked a deal to get goodies for legislators reluctant to vote for an unpalatable budget. It was a budget so odorous that A & R Chair Harry Moberly deferred its presentation on the House floor to Rep. Robin Webb. When it came time to vote, Moberly and a small group of legislators could not vote for it.
It passed anyway, in large part because of that deal. In retrospect, the deal was a bad deal for Kentucky. Moberly has reportedly said that if Stumbo is elected, he will no longer be A & R chair. There will be other changes. Should Stumbo be the victor, it is a pretty sure bet that the current committee chairs won’t keep their jobs.
One immediate change will be a sharp tilt of House leadership toward Eastern Kentucky and away from West Kentucky. Rep. Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook has no challenger for his post as majority leader, the job Rep. Stumbo held before he became attorney general. There are no West Kentucky candidates for leadership for any other offices. Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark and challenger Rep. Joni Jenkins are both Jefferson Countians. Unchallenged Majority Caucus Leader Rep. Hoffman is from Georgetown.
While his counterpart in the Senate, President David Williams, is verbose and opinionated, Richards is soft spoken and low key. Toe to toe with Williams before the cameras, Richards comes off the worse for the visual comparison. That is regrettable because leadership shouldn’t be measured by the loudest voice and puffs his chest out the farthest. That may work for mating frogs, but it is no virtue for legislative leaders.
Senator Williams has a stranglehold on the Republicans in the Senate. There may be whispers that he is an autocrat, but if there are, they are made on condition that the complainant remains anonymous. We fear that, if elected, Rep. Stumbo may become the House version of David Williams.