Following last year’s stinging political loses that saw Republicans take control of both the governor’s office and the state house of representatives, Kentucky Democrats are trying to get reorganized and took that message to local party officials in Whitley County Monday evening.
During its monthly meeting, the Whitley County Democrat Executive Committee heard from Eric Jarboe, executive director of the New Kentucky Project, a non-profit, non-partisan group, which leans towards the left politically.
The New Kentucky Project is an initiative started by Kentucky Sports Radio personality Matt Jones and former Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen that seeks to move Kentucky forward and modernize the state through a variety of different policy initiatives.
“We are of the belief that our political system can do better,” Jarboe told the crowd of about two dozen people Monday evening. “Our thing is we want to open source politics. What does that mean? We want to make it available to everybody. We will go to you and get you involved. You don’t have to come to us.”
Jarboe said that his group is trying to get people organized in all 120 Kentucky counties, and this was the 59th county that he had visited over the past year. The group already has members in 117 counties.
“These days of allowing Republican candidates to run unopposed are over,” Jarboe said.
Jarboe said that the organization wants to supplement what other organizations are doing, and will work to teach candidates how to organize, raise money and so forth.
He said the things that the non-profit group can’t do are provide funding for candidates and coordinate its efforts with the Democratic Party.
Jarboe added that tax reform efforts are coming and it will be the biggest political fight since the enactment of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).
Local Democrats also heard from Joe Graviss, a member of the Kentucky Democratic Party Central Executive Committee, who noted that after last year’s big political loss, the organization started rebooting and reorganizing.
Graviss said that the central committee is adopting a 120-county strategy, and realizes that it can’t rely solely on Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.
Graviss acknowledged, “It is going to be a long time before the Kentucky Democratic Party gets back to where it was before.”
He said the solutions are going to come from people like the ones at Monday’s meeting, and he is currently going across the state trying to help county executive committees get organized.
“Recognize you are the Kentucky Democratic Party in your county,” Graviss said. “We are not going to have a savior from Frankfort come down to save us.”
In addition, during Monday’s meeting, local Democrats heard from Derrick Collett, organizing director of Resistance Summer.