Julian Carroll: The new guy BACK in town? The Kentucky Post wrote that Senate President David Williams has met his match.
Julian Carroll is not your average freshman senator. The 73-year-old Frankfort man has a storied political resume that reached its apogee in 1975 when then-Gov. Wendell Ford's ascent to the U.S. Senate elevated Carroll into the governorship.Do we call him Senator Carroll or Governor Carroll?
Before that he'd won other prominent elected positions as lieutenant governor, House speaker and state representative.
In January, his political story took another turn -- one taken by few other former Kentucky governors -- when he was sworn in as state senator. While other former governors have served in the House and Senate, most do it before becoming governor, not after.[...]
"I am a freshman senator," Carroll said matter-of-factly from his law office in downtown Frankfort. "I sit there and bite my tongue a lot of times when my head is telling me I need to be speaking, I need to be addressing the issue that is before us -- but I just keep my mouth shut."
But with a seat on the front row of the Republican-led chamber, Carroll already has made his presence known. During the heated debate over a contested Louisville Senate seat earlier this month, Carroll delivered a fiery oration complete with the broad arm sweeps and fist pumps redolent of an elder politician.
His rhetorical skills rival those of Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who is known for witty ripostes.
"David Williams has met his match," said Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, a Lexington Democrat.
Carroll won the Senate seat by defeating Republican Harold Fletcher, the brother of Gov. Ernie Fletcher. He decided to enter politics again because state government is in a "severe crisis." Given his legislative knowledge and experience, Carroll reasoned he could make a difference.
His place in Kentucky's political history also entitles Carroll to a level of respect from Republicans not bestowed upon other freshman Democrats, said J. Michael Thomson, political science professor at Northern Kentucky University.
"He's a former governor and that has credence," Thomson said. "In that sense, the Republicans are going to pay attention to him and are going to listen to him."
But Kentucky's political culture has changed mightily since Carroll left office in 1980. Democrats are no longer the sole controllers of the House, Senate and Governor's Mansion. It's 2005 and Republicans now rule the Senate and the first floor of the capitol and have made significant gains in the House.
While that's different, Carroll said issues like adequate funding for education and affordable health care are the same. Democratic colleagues in the Senate said Carroll's know-how on legislative matters is a welcome attribute in the caucus, which consists of 15 members.