A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rep. Buddy Wheatley announces he’ll run for Secretary of State in 2023

By Jack Brammer
NKyTribune reporter

State Rep. Buddy Wheatley, a Democrat from Covington who narrowly lost a bid for re-election to the state House in November, is going to run next year for secretary of state.

Wheatley, who turns 62 on Feb. 28, announced his Democratic campaign Tuesday for the state constitutional office that oversees elections and records business filings and state records at a news conference at the Covington Firefighters Association Union Hall.

Buddy Wheatley

Republican Michael Adams of Louisville is the current secretary of state and is seeking a second four-year term in the office. He has pushed several election reforms while in office, including no-excuse early voting.

Former state Rep. Allen Maricle, a Republican from Bullitt County, also is running next year for secretary of state. He backs former President Trump’s bid for president in the 2024 contest.

Wheatley, a native of Covington and a two-term state representative, is the only Democrat so far to announce for the office of secretary of state.

Wheatley said in a phone interview that he is running “to protect and preserve free and fair elections.” 

He said he wants to make sure every qualified voter has access to the polls and increase turnout at the polls.

Wheatley said he has a good relationship with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and backs his re-election next year.

He said Beshear did not recruit him to run for secretary of state but is seeking a strong ticket. All of the state’s current constitutional officers, except Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, are Republicans.

A fourth-generation Covington firefighter, Wheatley retired as Covington fire chief and now is an attorney for Kentucky’s first responders.

In November, Wheatley lost to Republican Stephanie Dietz, an Edgewood attorney, by about three percentage points for the 65th House seat. The boundaries of the district had been significantly changed earlier this year by Republican legislators to include more Republican voters.

At his announcement Tuesday, Wheatley was greeted by a room full of supporters, including his firefighter and union colleagues and several state legislators. He was introduced by House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins of Louisville.

He said he wants to secure Kentucky’s elections and expand access to the ballot box.

During this year’s legislative session, he was instrumental in expanding voting rights through legislation that established voting by mail and making early voting easier and more accessible.

His plans include increasing polling locations, recruiting more poll workers, extending voting hours from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., extending early voting to two weeks, allowing independents and other registered voters to take part in primary elections and eliminating straight party voting. 

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One Comment

  1. Col Owens says:

    Buddy Wheatley has proven in his two terms in the House of Representatives to be an effective advocate for his constituents, for all of NKY, and for all of Kentucky. We are fortunate to have him in this race.

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