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State Senate President David Williams (R) met last week with National Republican Senatorial Committee officials about a 2010 Senate bid, in the most public sign yet that GOP leaders could be looking for someone other than Sen. Jim Bunning (R) to carry the party banner next year.
KyPolitics.org, a blog that covers Bluegrass State politics, reported that Williams has serious interest in running for the Senate. But whether he would challenge Bunning in a primary or only run if Bunning steps aside remains to be seen.
Republican insiders in Washington, D.C., and in Kentucky are increasingly concerned about Bunnings viability as a candidate in 2010 and their ability to hold the seat if he is the nominee. Bunning has repeated reasserted that hes running for another term, even as GOP leaders such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) have continued to signal that Bunnings decision may not be final.
Williams is a close friend and ally of McConnell, and according to the Kentucky blog the meeting was arranged with the knowledge of high-level McConnell staffers.
Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) has long been seen as a potential successor to Bunning, if he opts not to run again.
Recent news reports change nothing about the US Senate race as I am concerned. Senator Bunning is a friend and mentor, Grayson said in a statement released Monday. As I have [mentioned] before, if he were to decide not to run, I would be keenly interested in the race. Senator Bunning has said that he is running, and I take him at his word. I am not planning a primary.
Meanwhile, Cornyn said the NRSC is behind Bunning if hes running for re-election and that it would back the Senator if he were to get a primary challenge.
My position is that this is Sen. Bunnings decision to make, and as long as he says he is running I will be supportive of him, Cornyn told Capitol Briefing, a Washington Post blog.