FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican Senate President David Williams will end a contentious legislative career to take a judicial position offered to him by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.
Beshear appointed Williams circuit judge in southern Kentucky on Friday morning. The move allows Beshear to rid himself of his chief political foe in the Legislature.
Williams, a Burkesville attorney, ran against Beshear last year in a vitriolic gubernatorial election that showed the two men clearly disliked one another. However, Beshear has a record of appointing Republicans to higher-paying government positions to get them out of the Senate.
The salary for Williams' new job is about $124,000 a year, more than double what he makes as a lawmaker. Taking the position could also double state pension benefits for the 59-year-old after he retires.
Governor Beshear released this statement Friday:
“The nominating commission representing lawyers and citizens in the 40th judicial circuit considered all the applicants for the position of circuit judge. The commission chose three people who met the rigorous criteria for serving in that position, including knowledge of the law and of the community.
I am appointing Senator David Williams to this judgeship effective Nov. 2.
Senator Williams is an experienced lawyer and is familiar with the district, having represented the area in the legislature for more than 20 years.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement late Friday:
“I congratulate Senator David Williams on his appointment to serve as a judge on the 40th Judicial Circuit. For anyone who knows David Williams, it comes as no surprise that he has found yet another way to serve the people of Kentucky. David’s twenty-five years in the State Senate stand as one of the most accomplished tenures in the history of the Commonwealth. His legacy is carried out every day through the countless communities across Kentucky that have benefited from his leadership. The next chapter in David’s life will undoubtedly share the same commitment to public service that he’s demonstrated throughout his entire career.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo had this to say:
"We wish President Williams the best as he takes on this new responsibility. He's had a long, distinguished career, and he was dedicated to his service as a legislator." -- House Speaker Greg Stumbo