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Stumbo: State Democrats Have To Hold New GOP Majority Accountable

Greg Stumbo
Greg Stumbo

House Speaker Greg Stumbo on Wednesday said the remaining Democratic members of the state House were in good spirits despite heavy losses on Election Day.

“We got hit by a tsunami named 'Hurricane Donald,'” Stumbo said.

Incoming and outgoing Democratic members of Kentucky’s House of Representatives met Wednesday for the first time since last week’s election, when Republicans won a majority of seats in the chamber for the first time since 1920.

Stumbo is one of the Democrats ousted during the Republican blitz, which benefited mightily from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s success in the state.

“The Democratic caucus is going to be an accountable caucus; they’re going to hold obviously the majority to the accountability standards that one would expect from a minority caucus,” he said.

Republicans now have 64 seats in the chamber -- a supermajority -- making it possible for the GOP to pass bills, constitutional amendments and break filibusters if the party votes as a bloc. Republicans also have a supermajority in the state Senate and hold control of the executive branch through Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Clinton Effect

Democratic candidates across the state were sandbagged by comments made by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton saying “we’re going to put a whole lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.”

Stumbo accused Republicans of taking the quote out of context and not having any real plan to help bring back the coal industry.

“If you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, a lot of people will listen to it,” Stumbo said. “I hope the people of Kentucky will hold those accountable who now have the reins of power and if they can magically sweep in and do something about it, I’m for them doing it.”

A massive rebound in the coal industry is unlikely, though Stumbo said Clinton’s comments “sure didn’t help things any.”

No Love Lost

Bevin has been critical of Stumbo over the course of his first year in office. The two locked horns during budget negotiations and lobbed insults at each other throughout the 2016 election season.

On election night, Bevin had few kind words for Stumbo.

“I say, 'Good riddance,'" Bevin said. "I mean, he will not be missed one bit. Kentucky will be better for his absence."

In response on Wednesday, Stumbo said he had “been called a lot worse things by a hell of a lot better men than him.”

“I could care less what Matt Bevin thinks about me, I don’t think very highly of him either,” Stumbo said.

Stumbo has been a member of the state House of Representatives since 1980 except for four years as attorney general from 2003 to 2007.

At 65 years old, Stumbo said he wasn't sure if his political career is over, but said for the time-being he would focus on practicing law, “the original love of my life."