Kentucky Democratic Party leader stepping down to take new role in Gov. Beshear’s administration

Published 3:31 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

FRANKFORT  (AP) — Sebastian Kitchen, who played an important behind-the-scenes role in Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection victory, is stepping down from his state party job to assume a new role in the governor’s administration, party leaders said Friday.

Morgan Eaves, another veteran of the Beshear administration, will succeed Kitchen as executive director of the state Democratic Party, the party said in a news release. Kitchen has been hired as deputy secretary for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said cabinet Secretary Lindy Casebier.

Kitchen presided over the state party’s operations during Beshear’s successful reelection campaign last year. He played a key role in building a statewide grassroots network, recruiting scores of volunteers who knocked on 1.4 million doors last year. Beshear won a decisive victory over his Republican opponent, then-Attorney General Daniel Cameron, in one of the nation’s most closely watched elections in 2023.

Kitchen took the helm of the state party in October 2021 as Beshear was formally launching his reelection campaign. Kitchen spent almost two years before that as Beshear’s deputy communications director.

The governor on Friday thanked Kitchen for his “steady hand” at the state party and said he looked forward to working with Eaves again.

Eaves assumes the role of party executive director as Democrats try to recover from a long series of losses in other Bluegrass State elections. Republicans hold both U.S. Senate seats in Kentucky, five of six congressional seats and every statewide constitutional office other than governor and lieutenant governor. The GOP has built overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

In 2022, the state GOP achieved another long-sought milestone by overtaking the Democratic Party in statewide voter registration.

Eaves previously served in Beshear’s administration as director of legislative affairs in the Education and Labor Cabinet and as deputy director of legislative affairs in the governor’s office.

She has practiced law in Richmond and served on the Richmond City Commission. Most recently, Eaves worked on education issues in the non-profit sector.

State Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said Friday that Eaves is a “dynamic leader” who will bring her “experience and determination to the KDP to support candidates who are committed to moving Kentucky forward.”

Topping this year’s ballots in Kentucky will be elections for president, U.S. House and the legislature.