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After election, Williams a 'better Senate President,' Beshear looking for common ground


Posted on November 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 10 at 8:33 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WHAS11) — The day after Kentucky's gubernatorial election looked and sounded a lot like the day before.

Governor Steve Beshear (D) appeared at a business ribbon cutting in Louisville, touting economic incentives and his first term as governor.

"I think they appreciate the bipartisan spirit in which I try to operate this government and to move the state forward," Beshear said.

Meanwhile, Senate President David Williams met with reporters in his Capitol Annex office.

"Yesterday I was President of the state senate, today I was President of the State Senate," said Williams, the Republican candidate on the wrong end of a 21 point drubbing by Beshear.

"So a lot of things haven't changed," Williams continued, "My attitude about helping Kentucky hasn't changed."

With Williams still the top Republican in Frankfort and Beshear still the top Democrat, will anything change?

"You know, the election is over now," Beshear said, "and I'm going to be sitting down with (Williams) and others in trying to figure out what issues we can agree upon and where we ought to go."

In his victory speech, Beshear said the mandate of his landslide win is an end to obstructionism in Frankfort.

"I hope he does that," Williams retorted.  The mandate - aimed at Williams - was "red meat" for partisans in a speech written by handlers, Williams said, and contrasted the tone of their private conversation.

Both are signaling a desire to find common ground.  Yet it's unclear if either is motivated to truly compromise.

"Anybody that's willing to work with us I'm willing to work with," Williams said.

"I think everyone is tired of politics and I need to give the governor the opportunity to come back with whatever agenda he's going to propose on the things that we're in accord with," Williams continued, "We'll follow through with and on additional things we'll have conversations with House leadership."

Beshear is mindful of the 21 point margin of his re-election as he enters into another term as governor with Williams leading the opposition party.

"Certainly our victory last night was significant.  We won by a huge margin and I do think that the people of this state are saying several things," Beshear said, repeating his campaign mantra.

The governor said Kentuckians appreciate his efforts during the worst recession of our lifetime and his bipartisan spirit "in trying to bring both sides together to find common ground."

"We've been successful on that at times and we've also run into road blocks at times," Beshear said.

"No one person obstructs this," Williams said, defending being part of several of those road blocks to prevent the state from enacting some of the administration's initiatives.

The state still faces a weak budget outlook and tough decisions, Williams said, but the ball is clearly in the governor's court.

"It serves no good purpose for me to be critical of the governor at this juncture," Williams said, "The campaign is over, he won.  I need to give him the opportunity to come forward with an agenda."

Beshear and Williams plan a private meeting later this month.

"There's not any preset conditions or anything else," Beshear said, "It's just time to move on and to put the job of getting this Commonwealth back on its feet moving even faster than it's moving now."

Beshear said Williams can still be an effective leader of the Senate.

"I certainly think he can be.  So, we're going to sit down and see what we can do," Beshear said.

"I'll be a better Senate president," Williams said, "I've been a good Senate president.  I think I'll be a better Senate President.

In what way?

"Because I am physically stronger, spiritually stronger, intellectually stronger than what I was and those sort of things are the attributes that you have to have," Williams said.

The GOP leader said that he had "great conversations" with 13 Republican senators on election night and has the support of the caucus.

The caucus will set the legislative agenda, Williams said, declining to address several issues debated during Beshear's first term, yet clarifying that voters rejected his gubernatorial policy because he, and not his positions on the issues, is unpopular.

The governor said he will persist in his push for expanded gaming.

"I continue to support it," Beshear said, "We need it and I'm going to continue to explore how we might be able to bring  it to the state."