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Kentucky Democrats Elect First Black Chair, Colmon Elridge

Kentucky Democratic Party

The Kentucky Democratic Party’s executive committee has elected Colmon Elridge to be the party’s new chair.

Elridge worked as a special adviser to former Gov. Steve Beshear from 2007 until 2015 and more recently worked as the government relations director for the Kentucky Education Association, a statewide teachers’ advocacy organization.

Elridge will be the first Black person to chair the Kentucky Democratic Party.

In a statement, Elridge wrote that he was honored to lead his party into the future.

“As a black man who was the first person in his immediate family to have been born with the right to vote, it is an honor to be able to make history today,” Elridge wrote.

“I believe the Kentucky Democratic Party has a strong future ahead of it and I can’t wait to apply things I’ve learned from my experience to help Democratic candidates win in 2022 and beyond.”

Elridge was nominated to the position by Gov. Andy Beshear. He replaces Ben Self, the co-founder of West 6th Brewing Company, who started as chair in 2017. Self announced in September that he would leave the position at the end of the year.

Elridge will take over the party after historic losses for Democrats across Kentucky.

Democrats now hold just 25 seats in the 100-member state House of Representatives and 8 seats in the 38-member Senate, a low-water mark for the party.

And though Democrats control the governorship in Kentucky, since last year all other statewide offices are held by Republicans.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Elridge has the “experience, leadership and ethics” to lead the party going forward.

“I’ve known Colmon for a long time and I can’t think of a better person to continue to build the Democratic Party here in Kentucky,” Beshear wrote in a statement.

“As chair, Colmon will work every day to elect Democrats committed to public education, access to quality and affordable healthcare and good paying jobs.”

Elridge is a Cynthiana native and graduate of Transylvania University and Sullivan University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Cumberlands.

He represented Kentucky during the video roll call at the Democratic National Convention over the summer.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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