Republicans throughout Kentucky come from all walks of life and from every area of our Commonwealth. Republicans are unified by the concept of the primacy of the individual and by an opposition to large, intrusive government. In every county and community in Kentucky, the individual is the heart and soul of our party.
The Republican Party of Kentucky is committed to growing our party, advocating common sense, conservative principles, working to elect Republicans at every level of government, and putting Kentucky back on the right track.
The Republican Party began taking form among anti-slavery activists who opposed the extension of slavery in western territories of the United States. Republicans ran their first presidential candidate in 1856, and Republicans first won the presidency in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln, who was born in Hardin County, was elected.
In Kentucky, the Republican Party traces its roots to 1870. In 1871, Republicans ran its first slate of candidates with General John Marshall Harlan, a future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as the party's candidate for governor. The Kentucky Republican ticket campaigned on its support of the 14th and 15th Amendments, standing in stark contrast to its opponents.
Despite losing in 1871, Republicans in Kentucky began building an infrastructure, reaching out to voters, and gaining momentum. By 1895, the majority of Kentucky's congressional delegation was Republican. In the same year, Kentuckians elected the Commonwealth's first Republican governor, William Bradley, who ran on a platform of reforming and cleaning up state government – rooting out cronyism and corruption.
Just as the Republican Party was founded on the idea that all men are created equal, Republicans were at the forefront of advocating for women’s suffrage. In 1896, the Republican Party was the first major political party to support extending the right to vote to women. Margaret Park of Bardstown and Minerva Embry Allen of Fayette County, among others, fought for women's suffrage and were active in their local Republican organizations. For the first time in Louisville, a woman, Lelia Calhoun Leidenger, was elected to Louisville’s Board of Education in 1920.
Throughout the 20th century, Republicans candidates in Kentucky ran and won on platforms of rooting out corruption in government, reducing wasteful government spending, balancing the budget, and promoting economic growth and prosperity. Republican candidates in Kentucky continue to promote those core values, and our Party continues to grow as our message continues to resonate with Kentuckians who want common sense, conservative solutions.
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Kentucky is responsible for the operation of party affairs and meets quarterly. The Executive Committee comprises fifty-four Republicans from throughout our Commonwealth – with members representing every congressional district in Kentucky.