Senate Democratic leader basks in role of 'head cowboy'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle was in a celebratory mood as the legislative session drew to a close last week.

Democrats had lost control of the Senate earlier in the year with the election of Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey, but still managed to shepherd most of Democratic Gov.

Phil Bredesen's agenda toward passage. "This was a very good session for Democrats," said Kyle. Much of Kyle's success in driving the Democratic agenda may have something to do with the fact that he's no longer second-in-command to former Speaker John Wilder.

Wilder, D-Mason, had served as speaker from 1971 until January. "My ranch is smaller, but I'm the head cowboy," Kyle said. "I'm not the sidekick anymore."

Kyle, of Memphis, was able to corral the sometimes divergent priorities of his fellow Democrats - and take advantage of Sen. Mike Williams' decision to shed his Republican affiliation to become an independent.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)