FRANKFORT - Kentucky House Republicans made it official Thursday: Rep. David Osborne, who served as the acting leader of the House during a contentious 2018 legislative session, has been nominated for Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“This is actually the first time I’ve been elected speaker and I think with that comes a lot of opportunity,” said Osborne, R-Prospect. “And it brings with it an opportunity to build our own team and do things in a reasonable, rationed manner as opposed to responding to a lot of external circumstances.”
Osborne, a commercial realtor and horse farmer, took over the gavel last winter after former House Speaker Jeff Hoover got caught up in a sexual harassment scandal with a member of his own staff and resigned from leadership. As Speaker Pro Tempore, Osborne shepherded the GOP caucus through the fallout of the scandal and the passage of controversial laws that overhauled Kentucky’s pension systems and made big changes to the tax code.
“It’s not something I ever thought I would do, it was never something that I particularly aspired to,” Osborne said. “But it is important to me. It’s very humbling.”
House Republicans met in Frankfort Thursday to elect their leaders for the next two years. Osborne and Rep. David Meade, who was nominated for Speaker Pro-Tempore, must still be affirmed by the entire House when it convenes in January, but that is a formality since Republicans hold a majority of seats in the chamber.
Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville, will be Majority Floor Leader; Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, will be Majority Whip; and Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro will be Majority Caucus Chair.
Miles is the first woman to be elected to Republican House Leadership, Osborne said.
“We don’t serve as male or female, any color of skin, things like that,” Miles said when asked about being the first woman in Republican House Leadership. “We serve as our job description and what people sent us here to do. There is no difference between all the people sitting in front of us, all of us want to serve.”
The group gave little information on their legislative priorities for the 2019 session and said they would figure out their focus during a caucus retreat next week in Louisville. Osborne, though, said he expects his caucus to legislate with a “sense of urgency.”
“I think that we owe it to the people of Kentucky to be enthusiastic, to be energetic, to be diligent but to operate with a sense of urgency to do the things that need to be done to move Kentucky forward,” Osborne said.
Carney, a former teacher, joins the leadership team after guiding two of the most controversial bills of the past two sessions through the legislature. In 2017, he helped get charter schools legislation passed and he helped guide the pension reform bill in 2018.
“It was a family atmosphere here today, and we talked about that, that we are a family, we are a team.” Carney said. “We’ll not always agree on every issue and those issues we discuss behind closed doors, but out in the public arena I think you’ll see a unified voice moving forward.”
Meade, R-Stanford, and Osborne are the only remaining members of the 2017 leadership team that led a Republican takeover of the House for the first time in nearly 100 years. Former Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, lost his primary election in May and former Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, chose not to run for a leadership position.
The new leadership team was elected by the 61 incoming members of the Republican caucus. It is possible, however, that those ranks could change. Candidates who lost tight elections have 15 days after the Secretary of State certifies the election to contest the results. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes certified the elections last Tuesday.