Kentucky Democratic Party

Kentucky Democrats Hire Sanders' Alum as Party Director

Apr 21, 2017
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The Kentucky Democratic Party has hired a former team leader of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign as its new executive director.

The party announced Mary Nishimuta of Frankfort as the new executive director on Friday. She will serve under state party chairwoman Sannie Overly, a state representative from Paris.

Nishimuta was a national team leader for Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign and was a delegate for him to the Democratic National Convention. Sanders narrowly lost Kentucky's Democratic presidential primary to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote.

A graduate of Georgia Tech, Nishimuta has worked for various Fortune 500 companies and is the co-owner of the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in Frankfort. She said her goal is to build a strong party in all of Kentucky's 120 counties.

Kentucky LRC

On Monday, reporters huddled in the state Capitol waiting for a potentially big announcement. They were aware of rumors — incorrect ones, it would turn out — that multiple Democratic state House members had switched to the Republican side, changing the balance of power in the last Democratic-controlled legislative branch in the South.

That Kentucky political observers would even entertain the thought shows a palatable shift in the balance of power in a state where Democrats have a decades-long advantage in local politics.

Now, with an ascendant state GOP, the Kentucky Democratic Party is looking for a new leader.

Last weekend, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Patrick Hughes announced he was stepping down after less than a year on the job.

State Democrats are in a perilous position. As party leaders look to replace Hughes, they should have a couple of things in mind, political observers say.

The campaign for control of the state House has taken a nasty turn, with radio and TV ads being pulled because of inaccuracies. Republicans have successfully knocked radio ads attacking their candidates off the air in the Bardstown and Mayfield areas. And they are working on getting TV ads in Lexington pulled as well.