Somerset, Kentucky Mayor Alan Keck launching GOP governor bid

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck

Courtesy of Keck for Somerset

It’s hard to keep up with how many people are vying for the GOP nomination for governor.

But on Monday, one more name emerged: Somerset Mayor Alan Keck. The 37-year-old executive is expected to announce that he intends to seek the highest office in the state at an event in Somerset on Monday night.

He filed a statement of spending intent to run for governor with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Monday. Keck’s website launching his candidacy also posted on Monday. The news comes just weeks after having won his second term as mayor of the South-Central Kentucky city.

Aside from being mayor, Keck is also a businessman. He served as president of Somerset Recycling – a company owned by his father – and helped found his own sports management agency as well as the University of Somerset, a planned four-year university that brands itself as an institution free of “indoctrination.” His brother is listed as a vice president there.

Economic development is central to Keck’s platform, which touts the growth of Somerset. Keck penned an oped in the New York Times during the COVID-19 pandemic detailing why Somerset was well-positioned to reopen.

Keck’s bid puts the number of Republican candidates who have thrown their hat in the ring well into the double digits – candidates include Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, retired attorney Eric Deters, Rep. Savannah Maddox, Auditor Mike Harmon, and more.

This group hopes to unseat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who boasts high approval ratings – the highest of any Democratic governor in the nation according to Morning Consult and a massive campaign warchest of more than $4.5 million.

Keck, whose political brand does not yet extend far beyond the borders of his native Pulaski County, could stand to benefit from the GOP field remaining so crowded.

“Once a field has become this incredibly crowded, the odds only increase that a candidate with a small but focused base can rise to the top,” University of Kentucky Political Science Professor Stephen Voss said. “When you’re talking about someone with a regional reputation, a crowded field is the best situation for such a candidate.”

The region around Pulaski County has been majority-Republican, unlike much of Kentucky, for decades. Because of the state’s closed primary system, where only Republican Party members can vote in GOP primaries, the region has a reputation of disproportionately mattering more relative to its total population.

This story will be updated.

This story was originally published November 21, 2022 3:25 PM.

Austin Horn is a politics reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He previously worked for the Frankfort State Journal and National Public Radio. Horn has roots in both Woodford and Martin Counties.

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