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Thayer handily wins re-election bid; eyes Senate majority floor leader spot

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By Bryan Marshall

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, is looking toward the future after overwhelmingly being re-elected for a third four-year term.
In the four-county 17th senatorial district of Grant, Kenton, Owen and Scott, Thayer nearly doubled the vote totals — 35,343 to 17,926 — of Democratic challenger David Holcomb.
Thayer received 5,782 votes in Grant County compared to 2,594 for Holcomb.

“I’m very gratified with the margin of victory in Grant County,” Thayer said. “It was really overwhelming and humbling to receive that many votes, but Grant County has always come through for me.”

Thayer said he is also excited about Brian Linder being elected as state representative and having all four of the state House spots in his district held by Republicans.
As for his top priority in his new term, Thayer said significant reform is needed to the public pension system.

“We have our largest majority ever, 24 Republican members,” Thayer said. “For the first time in a long time, David Williams won’t be a member of the Senate or Senate president. There are a lot of internal dynamics that have yet to play themselves out. I’m going to run for Senate majority floor leader, but, in many ways that election may be more difficult than running in the general election. There are personalities and history involved. Being popular in your district doesn’t always equate to being popular in Frankfort. I’m a fairly outspoken and aggressive senator. We’ll see if the majority of the caucus members want someone like me to be their floor leader or not.”

The election for Senate majority floor leader will be in early January.
With Sen. Williams leaving the General Assembly to become a judge, the issue of expanded gambling could see a resurgence in the legislature as well.

Thayer joined Gov. Steve Beshear during the 2012 session in an effort to put expanded gaming on a ballot to be voted on by Kentucky residents.

Ultimately, the amendment was not approved in the Senate.

“My main focus as a member of the caucus is setting a new tone in Frankfort,” Thayer said. “The tone the last few years has gotten quite negative and I think people are tired of that. As far as the expanded gambling issue, it’s bigger than Sen. Williams being there or not. I think the votes are there in the Senate if the amendment is worded properly. It depends how aggressively Gov. Beshear wants to pursue the issue and if the House of Representatives is willing to go along. I don’t know that the Senate will be willing to take the lead on it this year as it did last year.”

While the issue of expanded gambling can be voted on by the General Assembly in 2013, it could not be put on the ballot until 2014 if it is passed.