Commentary

Beshear must lead his party’s restructuring or be Kentucky’s last Democrat in statewide office

December 19, 2023 5:30 am

Gov. Andy Beshear takes a photo with a supporter during the 26th annual Mike Miller Memorial Bean Dinner hosted by Marshall County Democrats at Kentucky Dam Convention Center on Aug. 4, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)

Kentucky Democrats are riding high on Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection, and rightly so. It was a hard earned and well deserved victory. But now that the gubernatorial battle has been decided, it is time for Democrats to think about the future.

The down-ticket races did not go so well for Democrats; as a matter of fact they were not even close. That leaves no pipeline of Democratic candidates for future offices in the next four, eight or even 12 yrs. And if we look at the Kentucky General Assembly, things are not going well for Democrats there either. Democrats’ Senate delegation can be housed in a closet and the House is not far behind. And Kentucky Democrats have but one federal office holder in Washington D.C. The time is overdue for the party to rethink strategy.

The Democratic Party can no longer allow itself to be defined by outside sources. That has happened over the past two decades, and if you do not have a structure in place to react to and counteract what is being said about you, then over time, regardless of whether it’s true or not, that message becomes what people believe.   

We need two viable political parties in order to achieve fair and balanced public policy, and this means the Kentucky Democratic Party must be reformed from the top down. The party must start the process of defining itself more clearly and start giving the public an unambiguous view of who it is and what it stands for. It has to develop a strong voice, and to accomplish this, I firmly believe a statewide convention is needed to restructure the party. Democrats must have a leader/chairperson who provides direction not only at the state level but also at the county level with all 120 local parties. Democrats desperately need a structure to start identifying Kentuckians who possess leadership skills, and to encourage them to join in, and from there be moved up through the ranks.   

And the changes cannot stop there, the Kentucky Democratic Party must heavily involve itself in identifying and supporting viable candidates for the Kentucky General Assembly and Congress. The same is true at the county level. The party must begin the process of identifying talented and qualified people to run for local elected offices. Those grassroots efforts will build a foundation and eventually propel candidates to higher levels. And, yes, this sounds like a daunting task and a tremendous amount of hard work, but from what I have seen and experienced during my lifetime, anything that was worth doing usually took a whole lot of hard work. 

These things can happen, but the key to any of the above taking place will require the leadership and direction of our newly reelected governor. Failing that, Andy Beshear will be the last  statewide Democratic official elected in the foreseeable future.

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