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With the filing deadline looming, few Democrats have filed to run

2023 is just around the corner and the filing deadline is coming up in a few weeks. But as of right now, only one Democrat has filed to run for state office.

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2023 is just around the corner and the filing deadline is coming up in a few weeks (January 6th)! At the time of this writing, the following candidates have filed to run for state offices according to the Secretary of State Website (others have stated their intent to raise money, but below are the only candidates who have officially filed):


  • Andy Beshear (D), current Governor
  • David Cooper (R) from Independence
  • Robbie Smith (R) from Berea
  • Mike Harmon (R) from Junction City

Attorney General

  • Russell Coleman (R) from Crestwood


  • Andrew Cooperrider (R)  from Lexington
  • O.J. Oleka (R) from Frankfort

Agriculture Commissioner

  • Jonathan Shell (R) from Lancaster

That means, other than the current Governor, no Democrats have filed to run for state office.

With the aforementioned deadline looming, I thought it would be helpful to revisit the 2019 results. Take a look at the maps below:

The gubernatorial election is the only race won by Democrats, and it was a close one (5,086 votes or 0.4%). The closest race other than that was the Secretary of State race, in which Heather French Henry accumulated 47.7% to Adams’ 52.3%, followed by the Attorney General election (42.2% for Stumbo to 57.8% for Cameron), the Auditor contest (41% Donahue to 55.7% Harmon), Treasurer (Bowman 39.3% to Ball 60.7%), and Agriculture Commissioner (Conway 38.6% to 58.2% for Quarles).

First, a few notes on the Governor’s race. Beshear won 23 counties:

  • 6 along the Eastern Kentucky I-65 corridor (Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Rowan, Bath, and Nicholas)
  • 5 in Southeastern Kentucky (Floyd, Knot, Breathitt, Magoffin, Wolfe)
  • 5 in the Lexington-Greater area (Fayette, Madison, Woodford, Scott, Franklin)
  • 4 in Central and Western Kentucky (Marion, Warren, Hancock, Daviess)
  • 2 in Northern Kentucky (Kenton, Campbell)
  • And of course, Jefferson

Other observations: There are two other counties that were within 1% (Nelson and Boyle). Of the 11 counties adjacent to I-65, 8 voted for Democrats. The often-forgotten Eastern Kentucky counties are also essential.

Based upon 2019 results, what are targets for the counties that vote reliably Democrat?

  • Jefferson >67%
  • Fayette >66%
  • Franklin >62%

The other elections (Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and Agriculture Commissioner) were won by Republicans in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that a Democrat can’t win in 2023. To be sure, it’s an uphill climb, but a candidate that is a good fit for the office could win. Heather French Henry lost by less than 5%.

So if you are interested in running, or you know somebody who is, there’s time, but the clock is running out.


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Trent Garrison

Trent Garrison grew up in southeastern Kentucky, and attended EKU and got his Ph.D. at UK. After working in state government, he attended graduate school at KSU. (Read more on the Contributors page.)

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