Kentucky Democrats hope founder of brewing company has right recipe for political success
Ben Self of Lexington's West Sixth Brewing Company has been elected new Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Democrats hope the owner of a craft brewery in Lexington has the right recipe to help them taste victory once again.
On Saturday, the party’s Central Executive Committee elected Ben Self, founder of Lexington’s West Sixth Brewing Company, as its new chair. He replaces State Rep. Sannie Overly, who resigned earlier this year.
“At the brewery, we're about building a different kind of beer," Self said. "To me, it's a good model. We're building a different kind of party here as well."
Self faces a formidable task, rebuilding a party that has been swept out of power in Kentucky. In 2016, Democrats lost their last stronghold, the state House, for the first time in nearly a century.
“There's no doubt we have a lot of work to do," he said. "We have a lot of ground to make up."
Self said the rebuilding begins with the basics.
“It’s about improving our relationships and improving the county parties that are out there,” he said. “It's about raising money. It's about organizing. It's about training candidates.
Self believes the backlash over Gov. Matt Bevin's pension reform plan is fueling new energy for Democrats, even though Bevin blames Democrats for causing the crisis.
“It's not actually solving the problems that he's purporting to say that it actually does solve," Self said. "It's making matters worse in lots of cases, and it's breaking our promise that we've had to our teachers, to our public employees."
Self is convinced economic issues such as pensions and health care will help Democrats overcome the state's conservative views on social issues, such as abortion.
“At the end of the day, if you're dealing with extreme poverty or you don't have access to health care, that's the most important issue to folks,” Self said.
Self, a native of Pike County, began in politics working for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. He eventually built his own online fundraising company, Blue State Digital, and served as Technology Director for the Democratic National Committee.
He wants to use the same expertise to help Kentucky Democrats, starting with the 2018 election.
“I think success is taking back the House," he said. "It's obviously a stretch, but it's something we're going to work for."
The craft brewing entrepreneur believes Kentucky Democrats should look forward to what's on tap for the future.
“There is an incredible amount of energy around bringing new people into the political process," Self said.
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