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10 Reasons to Run for Office as an Independent in Kentucky

2 min read
Louisville KY
Good Party Politics Team · Feb 22, 2024

Kentucky is renowned for its horse racing, bourbon, and coal mining, but it also has a political scene that’s as varied as its cultural heritage. 

As we approach the 2024 elections, there are numerous seats up for grabs across various levels of government in the Blue Grass State. Many of them can be easily filled by an enterprising independent candidate. 

Read on as we delve into why Kentucky is fertile ground for independent and third-party candidates this election year.

Kentucky: A Political Overview

Kentucky's political history is complex, marked by a traditionally conservative leaning in federal elections while maintaining a mix of political affiliations at the state and local levels. This complexity, coupled with a growing number of voters who identify as independents or are unaffiliated with Democrats or Republicans, sets the stage for potential independent success stories. 

In fact, unaffiliated voters are the fastest growing voter base in the state. According to the latest available data, independents account for just under 10% of registered voters in Kentucky. Like most of the country, the state is primed for change. 

This can be demonstrated by the fact that voters in Louisville and Jefferson City have elected four Democratic Socialists to local offices. In 2023, the city of Louisville elected Valerie Magnuson to an at-large seat on its Soil and Water Conservation Board. The same year, Jefferson City voters elected Austin Clark and Gilman Bagga to at-large posts on the Board of Supervisors and Department of Soil and Water Conservation, respectively. Gilman joined Chris Kolb in that department. Kolb, a minor party office holder, was seated on that board in 2016.

An independent candidate was also elected to represent citizens in Calloway and Marshall Counties on the Kentucky Circuit Court

Although Kentucky is a closed primary state, independent and unaffiliated voters can participate in primary elections if there are more than two candidates running for a traditionally non-partisan seat, such as judge, mayor, or city council. 

Independent Politicians in Kentucky 

Kentucky's political landscape, which has traditionally been dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties, has also seen notable independent candidates who have made their mark by either running for office or serving in various capacities. One such figure is the late Gatewood Galbraith, a perennial candidate who ran for governor five times between 1991 and 2011. 

Galbraith, an attorney and advocate for marijuana decriminalization who passed away in 2012, ran as an independent candidate in the 2011 gubernatorial election. He garnered attention for his charismatic personality and advocacy for various reforms. Though never winning an election, his campaigns were influential in Kentucky politics, highlighting issues such as agricultural reform, civil liberties, and drug policy reform.

Another example is Drew Curtis, the founder of, who ran as an independent candidate in the 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial election. Curtis's campaign focused on a non-partisan approach to governance, leveraging technology and innovation to address the state's challenges. 

While Curtis didn’t win the election, his campaign demonstrated the potential for independent candidates to impact state politics by bringing fresh perspectives and solutions from outside the traditional party system.

These individuals, among others, showcase the contributions and impact of independent politicians in Kentucky. They also emphasize the diversity of thought and approach in the state's political arena.

Top 10 Reasons for Independents to Run for Office in Kentucky

In today’s political climate, there are more and more reasons to break with the status quo. Here are 10 of the best reasons to run for office as an independent candidate in Kentucky: 

Reason #1: Rising Independent Voter Base

While Kentucky might not top the charts in terms of independent voter percentages, there is a significant and growing number of voters who are disillusioned with the binary political system. This signals an opportunity for independent candidates with fresh ideas, especially for younger voters in Kentucky.

Reason #2: Bipartisan Discontent

The state has shown signs of bipartisan discontent, with voters increasingly frustrated by the national political gridlock. This environment creates an exciting opportunity for independents who prioritize a commitment to bridging the partisan divide and getting things done.

Reason #3: Diverse Political Beliefs

Kentucky's electorate is not monolithic. Instead, Kentucky voters span a wide range of political beliefs and values. This allows independent candidates to make inroads into niches that may be ignored or underserved by the major parties. Who in the Kentucky electorate is being overlooked by the Democratic and Republican parties?

Reason #4: Local Concerns Over National Politics

Kentuckians often prioritize state and local issues over national politics. This presents an advantage for independent candidates who are focused on local concerns such as economic development, healthcare, and education. Running for office as an independent means having the freedom to prioritize local issues, rather than national party priorities.

Reason #5: Grassroots Campaigning Potential

The state's rural and urban divide offers a unique chance for grassroots campaigns to flourish. This is particularly true for candidates who can connect on a personal level with constituents across Kentucky's varied landscapes.

Reason #6: Political Dynasties and Outsider Appeal

With the state’s history of political dynasties, Kentucky voters may be ready for fresh faces and perspectives, making the outsider appeal of independent candidates more attractive.

Reason #7: Focus on Economic Issues

Kentucky's economy, with its reliance on the agriculture, mining, and manufacturing industries, provides a platform for independents to propose innovative solutions unbound by party lines. This is especially true in areas like job creation and sustainability. What economic solutions are Democratic and Republican candidates failing to offer? Independent candidates can step in and fill that void.

Reason #8: Social Issues and Civil Rights

The state's ongoing debates over social issues and civil rights offer independents the chance to champion progressive causes or moderate positions that transcend traditional party boundaries. Independent candidates can stand up for the values of their community, not just of their party.

Reason #9: Environmental Concerns

With issues such as coal mining and land use at the forefront of many voters’ minds, independent candidates have the opportunity to address environmental concerns with nuanced policies that appeal to both conservationists and industry supporters. Political independence means being free to make these decisions without the pressure of corporate or union influence.

Reason #10: National Spotlight

Successful independent campaigns in Kentucky, especially in high-profile races, can garner national attention, highlighting the candidate's platform and potentially influencing the broader political discourse.

Running for Office in Kentucky in 2024

For those considering an independent run for office in Kentucky, it's essential to understand the state's unique political, economic, and social landscape. Engaging with your community, focusing on Kentucky-specific issues, and leveraging the state’s growing independent voter base are key strategies for a successful campaign.

Aside from the 2024 presidential election, Kentucky will elect six candidates to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kentucky will also elect new state senators to fill half of its 38 seats. Those seats are in odd-numbered districts. All 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives are up for grabs this election year. There’s also a need for a new Chief Justice in Supreme Court District 5.

There are currently no independent or third-party candidates for national or state legislative and judicial offices, which leaves room for the right independent candidate to offer a refreshing change from politics as usual. Only a single independent, Michael B. Stacy, is running to fill one of 47 available Commonwealth Attorney posts. 

Urban County has a busy ballot this year. In Lexington alone, all council seats are up for election. Candidates in the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, and 11th districts are running unopposed — meaning they are just waiting for fresh faces to step up and offer voters another option. In Franklin County, Frankfort is looking for a new mayor in 2024. There are 13 seats available in the Louisville Metro Council, and two of the candidates are running unopposed — again, providing a perfect opportunity for a new candidate to step up and offer fresh options.

For more information about open races in your community, check out Good Party’s Office Lookup tool

Dates and Deadlines for Independent Candidates in Kentucky

The key to setting your campaign off on the right foot is to check off the qualification requirements and meet filing deadlines. Kentucky’s partisan primaries are scheduled for May 21, 2024. The filing deadline for independent and minor party candidates is June 4, 2024, and the general elections are scheduled for November 5, 2024

Quick Tips for Independent Candidates in Kentucky

  1. Highlight Kentucky values. Emphasize a commitment to the state's core values and identities, from support for local industries to preserving natural beauty.

  2. Engage rural and urban voters. Develop strategies that address the concerns of both rural and urban constituents, recognizing voters’ diverse needs across the state.

  3. Capitalize on bipartisan frustration. Position yourself as a unifying candidate who can overcome the partisan divide, appealing to voters tired of political deadlock and polarization.

  4. Promote economic innovation. Offer forward-thinking economic policies that promise growth and sustainability for Kentucky's key industries.

  5. Utilize social media and digital campaigning. Maximize your campaign’s reach and engagement through savvy use of digital platforms, crucial for connecting with younger voters and those in more remote areas.

Free Tools for Your Campaign in Kentucky

The 2024 elections in Kentucky represent a significant opportunity for independent candidates. By tapping into the state's evolving political landscape and addressing the nuanced concerns of its electorate, independents can challenge the status quo and bring fresh perspectives to Kentucky's political arena. 

Whether focusing on economic revitalization, social justice, environmental sustainability, or another core issue, running as an independent in Kentucky is a chance to make a meaningful impact on the state's future.

Want free support for your campaign? Good Party is on a mission to provide free campaign tools and support to independent candidates in Kentucky and across the country. When you partner with us, you’ll have access to expert campaign advice, resources, and tools to plan and monitor your campaign progress.

Contact us to book a demo today.

Photo by Joshua Michaels on Unsplash


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Independent Movement
Louisville KY
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.