CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Senate President Jeff Kessler will not shake up his leadership team. Instead, all of the major committee chairmen will remain as they are.
Kessler's decision, announced Monday, means Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, will continue to chair the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
That's despite the fact Palumbo sided against Kessler, D-Marshall, in a skirmish over who would lead the Senate.
Palumbo had backed fellow Kanawha County Democrat Sen. Brooks McCabe's bid to lead the Senate, but McCabe ended his attempt after Democrats voted 17-11 in a private caucus to back Kessler.
Several McCabe backers wanted to keep fighting, but that would have involved breaking with tradition and disobeying the will of the party caucus. It would also have meant a vote on the Senate floor with some McCabe Democrats trying to persuade Republicans to side with them against Kessler Democrats — a spectacle that some Democrats from both sides had hoped to avoid.
Palumbo was among the senators who urged the McCabe faction not to fight to a bitter end.
"I was certainly an advocate for uniting behind the caucus winner," Palumbo said Monday, referring to Kessler. "Some others were not."
McCabe conceded to Kessler shortly before the full Senate met Nov. 14.
"I don't think I'm the one who swayed it one way or the other," Palumbo said.
Kessler said he wasn't bothered by Palumbo's initial support for McCabe. Kessler said he thought Palumbo was just backing his fellow Kanawha native.
"If it was any other senator under the dome, I'm certain his support for me would be unquestioned," Kessler said.
Kessler said he never heard Palumbo say anything bad about him.
Kessler said his leadership team was "humming on all cylinders" by the end of the 60-day legislative session earlier this year. That's despite a turbulent start and threats of legal challenges that never materialized.
"I just think we made a lot of progress last year under very difficult circumstances and I think the core leadership we have in place are all in the same place and pulling the same direction," Kessler said.
Kessler came to power in January after he led a group that changed Senate rules to create the position of "acting Senate president." Kessler then assumed that new title.
The goal was to fill the void in the Senate left after long-time President Earl Ray Tomblin began acting as governor in November 2010.