by Ben Giehart
As I’m sure most Kentuckians are well aware, Kentucky is a red state. There are exceptions of course. As a whole, big cities like Louisville and Lexington are decently progressive – as one might expect. There are pockets of other cities and towns littered throughout the state that harbor modern civil rights laws that protect LGBTQ+ citizens from discrimination, but that covers only about 25 percent of the commonwealth. Consequently, it’s easy to lose hope that a vote in Kentucky ever really counts towards progress.
On a national scale, there is some truth to that – at least the way the electoral college is currently set up. As is most often the case however, change starts small and it starts within.
Kentucky’s 2019 Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. If you have no clue who to vote for or would like a refresher on who to consider for governor and other state executives, QueerKentucky has got you covered. There are several big races coming down the pike whose results could mean the beginning of serious change for Kentucky.
Andy Beshear is Kentucky’s current attorney general and won the 2019 Democratic primary. He is running with lieutenant gubernatorial nominee, Assistant High School Principal Jacqueline Coleman. This race marks the most likely opportunity for Kentuckians to end Republican trifecta control (when one party controls the governor’s office and holds majorities in both chambers of the legislature) in the state.
His platform focuses on making public education a priority for the state, supporting term limits on all elected officials and improving state transparency as well as increasing wages for workers.
Beshear is running against current Governor Matt Bevin, who has been a consistent news presence during his tenure. It should be stressed again, that this race is a big opportunity for Kentucky and its citizens.
To learn more about Beshear and his campaign, please visit https://andybeshear.com/.
With current Attorney General Andy Beshear running for Governor, this affords Republicans the opportunity to vote in one of their own in this position, so it is important that Democratic turnout be high for this race as well.
Greg Stumbo is the Democratic nominee and is a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing District 95 from 1981 to 2005 and from 2009 to 2017. It is also worth noting that he has served as Kentucky attorney general previously from 2005 to 2007. He is an extremely experienced candidate who could bring some stability to state government.
His platform focuses on his legal experience (he has practiced law for over 40 years and written laws as a state legislator), his opposition to drug companies that he says are responsible for bringing opioids into Kentucky and improving public access to the attorney general’s office.
To learn more about Stumbo and his campaign, please visit https://www.stumboforag.com/.
Secretary of State
Heather French Henry is the Democratic candidate for Kentucky secretary of state. She is perhaps the most popular candidate in this year’s Democratic field and, therefore, the most likely to win. As always, voter turnout is essential to secure this.
Henry is a former Miss American, but more importantly, she has served both Governor Beshear and Governor Bevin as the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. In that role, she has served over 300,000 veterans in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, making her a candidate with a fair amount of experience and possible partisan support.
Her platform focuses on voter security and accessibility, civics education and historic document preservation.
To learn more about Henry and her campaign, please visit https://www.supportheatherfrenchhenry.com/.
Robert Conway is the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner. He has extensive experience as the current district supervisor of the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation Board along with membership to several agricultural boards throughout the state. He is an eighth generation family farmer in Kentucky with farms in Scott and Harrison County.
His priorities as commissioner will be investing in schools and educators to develop a new generation of farmers, and he is also a strong supporter of legalizing cannabis to replace tobacco as a state cash crop. He believes that this will bring revenue and jobs to the state.
To learn more about Conway and his campaign, please visit https://www.conwayforky19.com/.
Sheri Donahue is the Democratic nominee for state auditor, and while her resume is not overtly political, it is perhaps the most impressive of all the candidates.
Donahue holds a BS in industrial engineers from Purdue University. She spent 20 years working for the U. S. Navy and served as program manager in security and intelligence. She has assisted on projects for the Navy, Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. She also served as president and executive director for the Cyber Conflict Studies Association where she worked with government, private corporations and academia to study cyber threats.
She brings a lot of intelligence to the playing field and as auditor, promises to restore community engagement, charitable involvement and faith in government for the people of Kentucky.
To learn more about Donahue and her campaign, please visit https://donahueforky.com/.
Michael Bowman is the Democratic candidate for state treasurer. He has long been active in volunteer work for local politics and ran for Jefferson County Clerk in 2018. He has served as a general manager for Yum! Brands, regional coordinator for the Southwest members of Louisville Metro Council and in 2012, was appointed as chief legislative assistant to District 14 Councilwoman Cindi Fowler.
He is currently a bank officer and branch manager for one of the largest banks in the country and is poised to jump on the political stage.
If elected, his three priorities are accountability by providing checks and balances for the executive branch, protecting state investments ethically and investing in new technologies and finding efficiencies in how the state treasurer’s office operates.
Notably, Bowman is the only candidate listed here who is openly gay.
To learn more about Bowman and his campaign, please visit https://www.bowmanforkentucky.com/.
Each of these candidates brings something unique and valuable to the table. They each require your support in the general election. Vote for yourself and vote for Kentucky. To register to vote, please visit www.GoVoteKY.com. The deadline is October 7, 2019.