Kentucky Democratic Party has more money than Republicans heading into governor’s race
RPK spokesman says that’s because Republicans spent their money supporting their candidates last year
FRANKFORT — Just as Democrat Andy Beshear has built a big fundraising lead over his Republican rivals for governor, the Kentucky Democratic Party has amassed a much bigger warchest than the Republican Party of Kentucky at the outset of this gubernatorial election year.
In disclosures filed with campaign finance regulators this week, the Kentucky Democratic Party reported having nearly $4.7 million on hand when balances of its state and federal committees are combined.
That compares to a combined balance of just under $1.8 million on hand reported by the Republican Party of Kentucky for its state and federal committees.
The Democratic Party’s efforts were boosted by a wave of big contributions made in December of last year.
Sebastian Kitchen, executive director of the KDP attributed the Democrats’ fundraising success in 2022 to Beshear’s popularity. “A majority of Kentuckians want four more years of his strong, steady leadership that shattered economic development records while leading us through unprecedented challenges,” Kitchen said in a statement.
But the RPK says it has a much lower balance than Democrats now because it spent the vast amount of what it raised last year to successfully do what it planned to do last year — elect Republicans. “It appears the Democrats have a different view,” said Sean Southard, director of communications for the RPK. “Last year, the Democrats largely chose to hoard funds and not spend to support their candidates in the state legislature or Charles Booker,” the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who lost to incumbent Republican Rand Paul.
In addition to the big edge in cash held by his political party, reports filed last month show Beshear’s re-election campaign fund holds more money than all of the many Republican candidates for governor combined.
Last month Beshear’s campaign reported he had $4.7 million on hand. By comparison the Republican who reported having the most on hand last month was Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, whose campaign balance stood at $874,000. Among Republicans, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft had raised the most, according to the most recent reports, but had spent $1 million of the $1.3 million she reported having raised.
Moreover, Beshear faces no serious challenge in the May primary, while Republicans will spend everything they can raise to win their own party primary.
Circumstances will be different in the general election, however. Super PACs that can accept contributions of unlimited amounts will pour millions into independent advertising campaigns for each side. The winner of the Republican primary — in a state that has trended Republican for decades — is not likely to be under-funded in the fall.
The RPK and the KDP on Tuesday each filed two disclosure reports: one for its committee registered with the Federal Election Commission listing its contributions and expenses for the last month of 2022; the other for its committee registered with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance covering its contributions and expenses for the last six months of 2022.
Within its two reports, the KDP listed a bit over $1.3 million in contributions by named individuals, and a bit over $110,000 in contributions from political action committees.
In its two reports, the RPK listed $246,000 in contributions by individuals and $194,000 from PACs.
Big Democratic contributions
The Republicans reported no givers during the periods covered who gave the maximum of $15,000 that any person can give to a state party over the course of a year. However, the Democrat reports listed 50 givers who gave the maximum $15,000 each. And all of these contributions came in December of 2022.
Here are the names of those who gave $15,000 each to the Democratic Party in December:
Douglas Asher II, Wallins Creek, attorney
Laurence N. Benz, Louisville, Confluent Health, executive
Patricia G. Benz, Louisville, Confuluent Health, physical therapist
Steven B. Bowler, Hudson, MA, Two Abigail Consulting, president
Garvin Brown IV, Louisville, Brown-Forman, executive
Laura Lee Brown, Louisville, retired
Victoire Brown, San Francisco, Calif., self employed
William C. Carstanjen, Prospect, Churchill Downs, president
Michael F. Dudgeon Jr., Midway, Milam Farm LLC, partner
Edward Fields, Jackson, Wyo., Community Wellness, executive
Zoe Fields, Jackson, Wyo., Community Wellness, co-founder
Ashley Gray, London, Hometown Bank, manager
James P. Gray II, Lexington, Transportation Cabinet secretary
Robert Gray, London, WB Transport, manager
Terry W. Green, Sugarland, Texas, accountant
Paul J. Guastello Jr., Kansas City, Mo., St. Pius, consultant
Michael Hacker, Gray, WB Transport, consultant
Augusta Brown Holland, Louisville, entrepreneur
John Gill Holland Jr., Louisville, entrepreneur
Pamela L. Klinner, Prospect, cpa
David Christopher Kloiber, Lexington, Kloiber Foundation, CEO
Maria Koutourousiou, Louisville, Kentucky One Health, physician
Franklin T. Lassiter, Midway, HealthTech Solutions, COO
George B. Lassiter, Lexington, Pomeroy, project manager
Mary E. Lassiter, Midway, retired
Lisa Lourie, West Palm Beach, Fla., Spy Coast Farm, owner
Caden McAdams, Corbin, WB Transport, manager
Chrystal McAdams, Corbin, Indiana Travel Nurses, nurse
William Louis McMahan, Glenview, investor
Laveda Motley, Olympia, homemaker
Mary E. Niehaus, Falcon Heights, Minn., HealthTech Solutions, graphic design consultant
Alicia Owens, Indianapolis, Ind., Marriott, manager
David Owens, Keavy, Envious, manager
Lanola Lawson Parsons, Harlan, Harlan Gun and Pawn, owner
Jennifer Schacht, Las Vegas, Nev., teacher
Theodore Sedgwick, Marshall, Va., retired
Colleen H. Swartz, Winchester, UK Medical Center, director
Mark A. Swartz, Winchester, Schwartz Enterprises, president
Mike Swartz, Olympia, Swartz Construction, owner
Duane D. Wall, New Nork, N.Y., White and Case, attorney
Alexis Weddle, London, student
Carmen Weddle, Gray, retired
Jennifer Weddle, Corbin, The Depot on Main, owner
Lisa Weddle, Knoxville, Tenn., Envious, owner
Nicholas Weddle, London, FH Trading, manager
Victoria Weddle, Keavy, Mad Hatter Diesel, CFO
Steve Wilson, Louisville, 21C Museum Hotels, CEO
Joan Winchell, Las Vegas, Nev., retired
Kristen Winchell, Las Vegas, Nev., investor,
Mark J. Zinselmeier, Community Wellness, COO
“Correction: Because of outdated information included in a recent campaign finance report filed by the Kentucky Democratic Party, an earlier version of this story posted in Kentucky Lantern listed an incorrect employer for Democratic Party donor Michael Dudgeon.
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