Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Features

March 20, 2014

Richardson returns to Ky. House of Representatives

Former Speaker visits Capitol for the day

FRANKFORT — He hadn’t been here in nearly 10 years, but Bobby Richardson knows his way around and clearly felt right at home Thursday when he visited the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Richardson, a Glasgow attorney, served in the House representing Barren County. He served two terms as Speaker after having served as Majority Floor Leader. In fact, Richardson was Floor Leader when current Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, first went to the House in 1980.

Richardson was accompanying his grandson, John Robert Richardson, who was at the Capitol to serve as page for Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, who now holds the seat once occupied by Richardson.

But the younger Richardson might be forgiven if he wondered if the day were for him or for his granddad.

Bobby Richardson was hailed by old friends and lawmakers wherever he went. A consummate storyteller, “the man from Eighty Eight,” a rural spot in eastern Barren County where he grew up in his father’s country store, Richardson’s distinctive laugh and southern Kentucky twang could easily be heard in the Annex cafeteria during lunch.

Later the two Richardsons spent time with Stumbo, another celebrated storyteller, in his office, the two older men regaling the young one with stories of the “good old days.”

“I got to spend about 30 minutes with him and it’s been about the most enjoyable 30 minutes I’ve had,” said Stumbo before going onto the House floor for the Thursday afternoon session.

“You’ll remember, he was my Floor Leader (a position later held by Stumbo) when I got here in 1980 and then was Speaker two terms while I was here.”

He said he and Richardson had been friends for many years and had done some legal work together as well.

“Bobby may have been the second best Floor Leader this chamber’s ever had,” said Stumbo, laughing.

When Stumbo entered the chamber he saw Richardson surrounded by former colleagues, his wide smile spread across his face as he shook hands or embraced lawmakers, staff and even an old reporter who covered the legislature and Richardson as far back as 1980.

During debate on legislation about fairly assessing the value of property, Richardson once offered to buy the Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer’s Shelbyville home sight unseen for whatever amount it was assessed. Brammer heard Richardson was on the House floor Thursday and went to say hello.

No sooner had they shaken hands than Richardson said the offer stood – he’d buy Brammer’s house at whatever value it was assessed back in the 1980s.

He posed with Stumbo and another former Speaker, Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, at the podium for a photo. As the session began, Stumbo had Richardson sit beside the Speaker’s chair on the podium and when others spoke from the floor, the two laughed and talked.

Someone told Richardson about Stumbo, seated beside Richardson, had told reporters Richardson was the “second-best floor leader” the House ever had. Demonstrating the two men have more in common than having held the same position, Richardson didn’t hesitate.

“That’s OK,” he quipped. “I’m also the second-best Speaker the House ever had – right behind Henry Clay!”

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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