FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Mac Brown is stepping down as chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party after an eight-year tenure highlighted by the GOP's growing dominance but coming just weeks after the party failed to unseat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the state's marquee election contest.
Brown's departure from his post at state GOP headquarters was revealed in an email sent Monday night to members of the Republican State Central Committee. Brown reflected on the GOP's electoral successes during his chairmanship but offered parting advice seemingly aimed at mending intraparty rifts that emerged as its ranks surged. As in other states, Kentucky Republicans have been grappling with friction between loyalists to former President Donald Trump and more traditional Republicans.
"Over the past eight years we have made tremendous progress in transforming the commonwealth into a state of opportunity, but there is still a great deal of work to be done," Brown said in the email. “The key to our future success is for the Republican Party to come together and not fight each other.”
He urged party members to “listen to and respect each other.”
Three weeks after the statewide elections, Brown said it's time for him to step down from the chairmanship and to allow “new and fresh leadership to take the party to the next level.”
The GOP lost the top-of-the-ticket race in the Nov. 7 election, when Beshear and his running mate, Democratic Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, won reelection to a second term in a race that drew considerable national attention. Republicans flexed their muscle by dominating the down-ballot races, winning the other statewide constitutional offices. Beshear first won the governorship in 2019 by defeating Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, whose pugnacious style sparked feuds with teachers and others.
While the governorship — the state's top political prize — remained a frustration for Republicans, the party expanded its control of Kentucky politics during Brown's tenure as GOP chairman. Republicans won control of the Kentucky House in the 2016 election, completing their takeover of the legislature. The state Senate was already controlled by the GOP. Republicans now have supermajorities in both chambers.
Sarah Van Wallaghen, executive director of the state Republican Party, said Tuesday that Brown ranks among the most influential chairmen to ever lead the Kentucky GOP.
“He helped flip the state House to Republican control for the first time in nearly a century, which has and will continue to deliver meaningful, conservative fiscal policies for a generation,” she said in a statement. “After nearly a decade of service to the commonwealth and the Republican Party, he has decided to spend much needed time with his family and friends.”
Republicans hold both of Kentucky's U.S. Senate seats and five of six U.S. House seats. The GOP overtook Democrats in statewide voter registration last year — another historic milestone during Brown's tenure. And the GOP's dominance has spread to county courthouses across the state.
State GOP officials did not immediately comment on the timing for choosing his successor.