11/28/2012 3:52PM

Thayer elected majority leader of Kentucky Senate

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Damon Thayer, a Republican Kentucky senator with ties to the racing industry who has supported legislation for a constitutional referendum allowing for casinos at racetracks, was elected majority floor leader of the state Senate on Tuesday night by his party.

The position is second in line to the president of the Senate. The floor leader plays a major role in determining which bills will be heard by the Senate and acts as a spokesman for the Republican caucus.

Despite representing a decidedly conservative district, Thayer sponsored a bill last year that would have put a referendum on the 2012 ballot asking voters whether to approve casinos in Kentucky. The bill did not pass a floor vote. Casino gambling in Kentucky has generally been supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, though the issue has also caused a large number of legislators to cross party lines.

Republicans currently control the Senate by a margin of 23-15, including an independent who caucuses with the party. Republicans legislators are set to caucus during a retreat Dec. 12-13 in which they will lay out their strategy for the 30-day 2013 legislative session.

Thayer had not returned a phone call by late afternoon Wednesday.

Prior to being elected, Thayer held positions at Turfway Park and Breeders’ Cup. He continues to operate a small public-relations company that serves Kentucky breeding farms.