LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Changing the way politics works in Kentucky. That is the ambitious goal of the New Kentucky Project, a new organization launched Tuesday by two familiar names.
They are an unlikely pairing.
Adam Edelen is the reform-minded ex-State Auditor who helped put University of Kentucky basketball legend Richie Farmer behind bars.
Matt Jones is the free-wheeling host of Kentucky Sports Radio, the voice of Big Blue Nation, who considered a run for Congress.
Together, they hope to shake up Kentucky politics.
“We're going to organize at the county level, in every corner of Kentucky, to really identify and promote new ideas and new leaders in an effort to change what is a top-down structure in Frankfort,” Edelen told WDRB News.
Edelen and Jones, both Democrats, have launched the New Kentucky Project.
Its goal is building a non-profit, grass-roots movement to counter what they call the far-right agenda of Gov. Matt Bevin, and the timidity of many state Democrats.
“I think progressives in this state feel like nobody stands up for what they believe in, and I think moderates think there's too much bickering so that common-sense solutions never take place. I think we are trying to attract both of those groups,” said Jones.
Over the years, Kentucky has moved from a Democratic Blue state to Republican Red.
Jones and Edelen are hoping to color the state more purple by promoting progressive to moderate ideas to attack the state's problems.
But they say this is not a third party. “We're part of a much bigger, longer-term focus on building a bank of really good ideas and a bench of really talented leaders, all who share a core set of values,” said Edelen.
“People get split on the methods, and then they get labeled as liberal or conservative based on the methods to achieve those goals. Whereas I think if you and I share the goal, we can work together on the method,” added Jones.
Edelen and Jones say, at the national level, the public disgust with both major party presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, illustrates the need to build a new political consensus.
“I'm a Kentucky fan that lives in Louisville. You talk about hearing divergent opinion, I get it every day. But I think that's a blessing. I think it's a blessing to hear and engage those who disagree with you,” said Jones.
Members of the organization will pay $20 annual dues, or $10 for college students.
Neither Edelen nor Jones will rule out a future run for office, but both say their focus right now is empowering others, not themselves.
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