A day before Metro Council Democrats were to select their nominee for council president, a top contender announced she is dropping out of the running. In a brief interview, Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, told WFPL that she will not seek the office next year, which means that former mayoral candidate, Councilman Jim King, D-10, will likely win the leadership post.
Ward-Pugh says King was able to secure more support first.
“It hasn’t been a contentious thing at all,” she says. “It’s just a matter of he’s got the votes. And it’s not about him not being capable; I just really didn’t anticipate that he’d want to run again this quickly. But I am fully behind him 100%.”
Since merger, the council president’s role during a one-year term has expanded as the chief negotiator for the legislative branch with the mayor.
If elected, King, who served as council president in 2008, would be working closely with Mayor-elect Greg Fischer, who was a political rival only a few months prior.
During the hotly contested Democratic primary, King slammed Fischer in several campaign mailers and television advertisements, claiming the Louisville businessman was not prepared to lead and supported tolls as a means to pay for the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.
In the final weeks of the election, Fischer responded, saying King was playing “chainsaw” politics and misleading voters with his ads.
In a Dec. 5 e-mail to colleagues, Ward-Pugh voiced concern about a conflict between Fischer and King potentially reigniting in 2011, but King tells LEO that his relationship with Fischer has improved since the election. The two talk regularly, he said earlier this month, and King recently sat down with the mayor-elect’s transition team to discuss budgetary matters.
The vote for council president will be at its first meeting on Jan. 6.