Down Ballot Races Begin to Form Ahead of 2023 Elections

There’s a reshuffling of the deck in the works as Republicans start to stake their claims for down-ballot seats and Democrats try and find top-tier candidates.

With a skip and a hop, all the chatter has jumped the 2022 U.S. Senate race and landed on the 2023 election for governor and constitutional officers.

Here is a way too early look at the down-ballot field:

Agriculture Commissioner: Defying normal political logic state Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, announced his candidacy on Saturday for Agriculture Commissioner – and for his 2022 House seat. Heath previously ran for Ag Commissioner in 2015. He was bested by current Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in the GOP primary. Quarles will be term-limited and is highly likely to run for governor.

Former state Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, is also rumored to be a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner. The 33-year old lost his re-election campaign in 2018 but rolled right into helping U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in his bid for statewide re-election in 2020.

On the Democratic side, it’s Rocky Adkins, the special adviser to Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, whose name is the most prevalent for this post. Adkins served in the state House of Representatives from 1987 to 2019, when he sought the Democratic nomination for governor.

Auditor: Current Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon, R-Kentucky, is term-limited in 2023, and has become the first Republican candidate to enter the 2023 race for governor. Another statewide elected official Treasurer Allison Ball is considering a run for this post, according to sources. Like the rest of the eastern Kentucky political class, Ball is also rumored to be eyeing U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, Congressional seat. But that race would have to wait for the longest-serving Kentuckian in Congress to hang it up.

Another name that pops up for this office is former U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. However, those rumors have slowed in recent months.

Louisville attorney Todd Lewis is mentioned as a potential candidate on the Democratic side. Lewis is a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney and serves on the Kentucky Attorney General’s Public Corruption Task Force. Lewis is also rumored to be looking at the Attorney General’s race.

Treasurer: Current Treasurer Allison Ball, R-Kentucky, is term-limited in this post which creates an opportunity for her former Chief of Staff OJ Oleka. The Republican currently serves as the President of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU). A source familiar with Oleka’s thinking says he is very likely to run.

Attorney General: Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, R-Kentucky, will seek another term in office. Democrats think that Cameron’s handling of the Breonna Taylor case leaves room to challenge the young Attorney General. In addition to Todd Lewis, state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, is also mentioned as a potential candidate for this post.

Secretary of State: Secretary of State Michael Adams, R-Kentucky, is expected to seek a second term in the role. Adams will likely see a primary race from a Republican for this post. It is unclear right now who on the Democratic side will challenge Adams.