Of course, Tilley’s departure is a loss for Democrats in the General Assembly. But any cynical conjecture about Tilley’s selection to head the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet overlooks the reality of his legislative record. He has an impressive resume, especially in criminal justice reform and measures to combat drug abuse. He is nationally recognized as a leader in corrections reform and effective drug legislation.
So how could anyone argue that he isn’t an excellent choice for justice secretary?
Tilley has been respected among Kentucky Democrats and Republicans for his ability to win bipartisan support on bills that tackle some of the state’s toughest social problems.
In spite of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s ridiculous statements, in which he questioned Tilley’s “character” after learning about the Bevin appointment, the fact remains that Tilley is widely regarded as a rising star in Kentucky politics.
As expected, Tilley took the high road on hearing complaints about his decision to leave the House.
“I know there are some hard feelings and, you know, I’m not happy about that, but I understand them. I hope people understand this was a decision about where I thought I could be most effective,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
As he often does, the 46-year-old Hopkinsville attorney sounds more like a true public servant than a calculating politician — although he did demonstrate a high level of political savvy as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. One hallmark of his legislative record was his respectful and productive relationship with Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who is also a Hopkinsville attorney. Westerfield chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Tilley and Westerfield collaborated on legislation to combat Kentucky’s heroin epidemic and on a bill that provides domestic violence protection for dating partners, among other positive efforts.
We will miss Tilley’s leadership in the House. But we respect his decision to leave the General Assembly. This is a huge step in Tilley’s professional life. He’s earned it.
He’s also earned enough respect to weather any complaints that his move is part of a political scheme to shift the House to a Republican majority.
Bevin picked the best man for the job. Tilley’s record proves that.
Kentucky New Era