Democratic state Rep. Buddy Wheatley announced on Tuesday that he is a candidate for Kentucky Secretary of State in the 2023 elections.
Wheatley, a native son of Covington whose family has been in Northern Kentucky for over 140 years, announced his candidacy for Secretary of State at the Covington Firefighters Union Hall. In a room full of supporters, he was backed by community members across Kentucky, his firefighter and union brothers and sisters, and a number of Democratic members of the legislature, including Leader Joni Jenkins, who introduced Buddy.
Wheatley served two terms in the Kentucky House, but was defeated in the 2022 midterms by a very narrow margin, primarily due to the gerrymandering of his district.
Said Wheatley, “In the 2022 election cycle, we saw only 41.8% voter turnout - the lowest midterm turnout in Kentucky in nearly three decades. That’s why I’m here today. To protect our Commonwealth, our families and our neighbors, we need to come together to ensure free and fair elections.”
According to a press release from his campaign, Wheatley was instrumental in expanding voting rights in Kentucky through the passage of House Bill 574 in 2021 and House Bill 564 in 2022, which permanently established vote-by-mail and made early voting easier and more accessible, during a time when so many other states were restricting the right to vote.
The press release also included the following information:
Buddy’s Plan to Secure Kentucky’s Elections and Expand Access to the Ballot Box
- Increase polling locations - Under the current Secretary of State, polling places have significantly decreased. In order to ensure everyone in Kentucky has access to the polls, regardless of ability or transportation, we need to increase polling locations, not restrict them.
- Recruit more poll workers - With added polling places, we will need more poll workers, to ensure our elections are secure and effectively run.
- Extend voting hours - So many working Kentuckians aren’t able to make the 6:00 PM deadline to vote, and, as all parents know, the mornings are difficult when you have children. We need to extend the 6:00 PM cutoff to 7:00 PM, in order to make sure working Kentuckians are able to cast their ballot.
- Extend early voting to 2 weeks - Working families struggle to get off work to vote. The average length of early voting in the US is 23 days - and Kentucky only has 3. Our elections system can support 2 weeks of early voting, and it will ensure everyone in Kentucky has the opportunity to vote.
- Allow Independents and other registered voters to take part in our primary elections - This is to ensure our general election candidates represent all of Kentucky.
- Eliminate straight party voting - Most other US states have already done this, and it’s time Kentucky catches up to the rest of the country.
- Buddy’s family has been in Northern Kentucky for over 140 years.
- Buddy is a retired firefighter and Fire Chief. He followed a long line of firefighters, including his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, who all taught him the value of public service.
- Buddy is a strong family man. His wife, Dr. Judi Godsey, and his 2 daughters and granddaughter are all proud to support him in his candidacy. Dr. Judi Godsey’s family is from Eastern Kentucky, and her father and grandfather worked in the mines at Stearns Coal and Lumber Company, which taught both Judi and Buddy the power of a dollar and the strife of working people.
- Buddy is a proud product of Kentucky’s public schools, having attended Ludlow High School and University of Kentucky for his undergraduate degree.
- While Fire Chief, Buddy went to law school at NKU, in order to further his education to better serve his community. As an attorney, Buddy has worked with first responder union members to negotiate fair wages and benefits.
- Buddy served in the State House for 2 terms, during which he was a champion for voting rights and pensions. He was known for his bipartisan work to get the job done. His connections in the state legislature make him uniquely qualified for Secretary of State.