Louisville Republicans are eager to fill a vacancy at the top of the party ahead of next year’s elections.
Shellie May resigned as Jefferson County Republican Party chair last week to take a job in City Hall as a legislative aide in Councilman Ken Fleming’s office.
The state GOP has made gains in the state House and expanded its majority in the state Senate, and Republicans control five of the six congressional seats along with the two of the more prominent senators in the country.
But locally Democrats control the mayor’s office and the Metro Council. And Democrat John Yarmuth won re-election to the Third Congressional District seat by a 30-point margin last year.
Republican strategist Joe Burgan says redistricting had more to do with the congressional defeat than poor local party leadership, but that a new chair is important for the GOP to be competitive in those local contests.
“There’s no doubt that they are key when it comes to candidate recruitment. And for these Metro Council races and for the mayor’s race it’s really a body you want out there meeting with folks, growing our bench as we move forward as a party,” he says.
As of now no Republican candidates have indicated they’re interested in running against Yarmuth or Mayor Greg Fischer, who beat Republican Hal Heiner by less than two points in 2010.
GOP activists want an energetic replacement if Republicans are going to have a viable chance in those campaigns.
Sources within the party have told WFPL there are three names being touted as potential chairs: Republican Party of Kentucky vice chair DeAnna Brangers, Louisville attorney Nathan Haney and activist Jim Stansbury.
“The number one priority for the incoming GOP chair must be to reach voters in south and west Louisville. We can no longer be the party of Middletown or Prospect. We cannot move our party forward without embracing communities such as Valley Station, Iroquois and Shively,” says Republican activist James Young.
Young argues Louisville voters care little about how conservative a candidate is by national standard, which would make it easier for moderates to win.
Others agree those local elections matter but it’s also important for the Louisville GOP to be well organized ahead of the U.S. Senate race.
“At the county level it is just so important to have someone that compliments the state party in organization and fundraising. And with this senate race coming up next year it will be extremely important that we have someone in place that has the organization up and running at full speed,” says Burgan.