Kentucky Senate President David Williams declared himself "a Tea Partyer" on Wednesday and called for repeal of a constitutional amendment that took the power to appoint U.S. senators away from state legislatures and gave it to voters.
Williams' comments came during a presentation to the University of Kentucky Law School Federalist Society. They drew strong reaction from Williams' rival in next spring's Republican primary election for governor and from Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, Kentucky's two U.S. senators.
David Adams, campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett, said Williams was lifting Moffett's idea, while McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer and Bunning defended the voting process.
"Taking that sacred right away from the American people and giving it to politicians would be a huge step backward for our democracy," Steurer said.
Bunning, who is retiring when his term ends in January, said in a statement, "The way it is now is the proper way to do it."
Williams, a Burkesville attorney, told about 50 UK law students that most of the problems with the federal government stem from the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1913.
He contended it prevents state legislatures across the country from having input into the ever-growing role of the federal government with its various mandates, such as this year's health insurance overhaul.
Williams warned the students to "be mindful of the intervention of the tentacles of the federal government," which attaches requirements "to every dollar it sends to the states."
Williams, chairman of the Lexington-based Council of State Governments, noted President John F. Kennedy said during his June 1963 speech at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner."
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