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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- "My career here in Frankfort is over," Kentucky Senate President David Williams told reporters on Friday, as he said he had accepted Gov. Steve Beshear's appointment to a judgeship in southern Kentucky.
The appointment takes effect November 2nd. In a statement, Gov. Beshear said, "Senator Williams is an experienced lawyer and is familiar with the district, having represented the area in the legislature for more than 20 years."
The Judicial Nominating Commission met in Burkesville on Thursday, and recommended Williams for that judgeship.
The appointment provided Governor Beshear the opportunity to rid himself of a political rival. It's a tactic the governor has used before -- previously, he appointed one GOP leader a judge and appointed another to the Public Service Commission.
Williams is a Burkesville attorney who ran for governor against Beshear last year in a campaign that reflected the conflict the two men often engaged in politically over issues such as expanded gaming. When asked about that Friday, however, Williams would only say, "This is not a time to impugn him." He added, "I really leave here with no hard feelings toward anyone in the House, the Senate, the governor. I have no hard feelings."
Williams will make about $124,000 a year as a judge, nearly double his salary as a lawmaker. It could also double his state pension benefits when he retires.
Williams said Friday he had always intended to seek the judge's seat, which will be up for election in two years. The Circuit Court position includes Clinton, Cumberland, and Monroe counties. He said taking that judgeship had always been a dream of his, especially after his late father told him that should be a goal for him. Williams is from Burkesville, Ky., which is in Cumberland County.
Williams said he had not spoken with Governor Beshear about the judgeship. He will provide a letter to the Kentucky Senate resigning his seat early next week. He said he was proud of being, so far, the only Republican Senate president in Kentucky.
"We've done great things here," Williams said. "I have served 12 years here without any scandal, no financial scandal. We have run an honest Senate. I feel like we've had a successful run." Asked if he considered himself indispensable to the Senate, he replied, "The Frankfort graveyard is full of indispensable people."
The only regrets Williams would admit to were that he never got to bring a right-to-work bill before the legislature or was able to tackle tort reform.
Williams also indicated that health concerns were also a consideration in taking the judgeship, saying he's diabetic and his been trying to lose weight and take better care of himself. "I want to be the best man I can be in the years I have remaining," he said.
He wouldn't talk about any possible successors in the Senate. "We have able people in our caucus," he said. "Change can be a good thing. If they believe I was a powerful as they say I was, they'll have an opportunity."