- Associated Press - Monday, January 11, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democrats appear to have thwarted a Republican plan to pick off at least one of their members as the two parties continued to struggle for power in the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats.

Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover caused a stir last week when he told 1,500 people at the annual Kentucky Chamber of Commerce dinner that Monday could be “an historic day” in Kentucky. But on Monday, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting to tell reporters: “I’ve still got my boots on.”

“Everything they’ve ever said, it never comes to pass,” Stumbo said.

Hoover said Republican party leaders were in talks with some lawmakers to leave the Democratic caucus. They could not officially switch parties, since the deadline for party registration was Dec. 31. But they could become independents or they could caucus with Republicans as Democrats. Hoover said those talks are ongoing, but said the party is now focusing on four special elections scheduled for March 8 and the general elections in November.

“You’re talking about changing power in a body that’s been the same way for 100 years, that doesn’t happen overnight,” Hoover said. “It’s like good coffee. Everybody wants something quick and easy. Instant coffee is terrible. The best coffee is the kind the percolates for a little while.”

Democrats had a 54-46 majority heading into the session. But after Republicans took four of the statewide constitutional offices in November, including electing only the state’s second Republican governor in more than four decades, things began to change. Two Democrats switched parties. Another two resigned to after Bevin appointed them to other jobs.

Republicans also lost two members, who resigned after winning statewide offices in November. That left Democrats with a 50-46 majority. If Republicans win all four special elections, they would share power in the House.

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