emailed handout photo for KYLOCAL_KY08GOVERNOR - SAVED MAY 6, 2011: PHOTO CREDIT: PROVIDED PHOTO State Senate President David Williams, pictured, of Burkesville and state Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer of Frankfort are one of three Republican tickets vying for their party's gubernatorial nomination in the May 17, 2011 primary. provided photo
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.
One name that has surfaced as a possible replacement is Manchester Sen. Robert Stivers (R), who is up for re-election next month.
"I would be honored to be president of the senate, it is a very prestigious and powerful position at the state level government and politics," said Stivers.
"It is something that only few people have held in many years. Only one republican has ever held it and I do not know if anybody from eastern kentucky has ever held that position."
Stivers said "it would be an honor and a privilege."
The majority party will choose a leader in December.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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