Geoff Young is an unconventional political figure in Kentucky who has run for various state and federal offices as a Democrat, Green Party member, and Republican over the past decade. Though unsuccessful in his numerous campaigns, Young has developed a reputation as a bold critic of both major parties and a passionate advocate for progressive policies. His outspoken nature and unorthodox campaign tactics have made him a fixture in Kentucky politics.
Early Life and Education
Geoff Young was born in 1954 in Massachusetts. He graduated from Marblehead High School in 1974. Young went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He later obtained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1981. In 1988, Young completed a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky.
Early Political Career
Kentucky House of Representatives Run
Young made his first bid for elected office in 2012 as a Green Party candidate for Kentucky’s 45th House District. He challenged incumbent Republican Stan Lee but lost decisively, garnering only 8.7% of the vote.
In 2015, Young ran for Governor of Kentucky in the Democratic primary. He selected activist Cherokee Schill as his running mate. However, Schill later withdrew from the race. Young then chose Jonathan Masters as his replacement lieutenant gubernatorial candidate. In the primary, Young finished in last place with just 2.3% of the vote behind Jack Conway, Rocky Adkins, and Adam Edelen.
Over the years, Young has run multiple unsuccessful campaigns for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat.
In 2014, Young competed in the Democratic primary for the seat held by Republican Andy Barr. He lost to Elisabeth Jensen, capturing 39.1% of the vote.
Young again challenged Barr in 2016 but lost decisively in the Democratic primary to Nancy Jo Kemper, garnering only 19.9% of the vote.
In 2018, Young ran once more for the 6th District seat against incumbent Barr. He competed in a crowded Democratic primary field but finished fifth out of six candidates with just 1.6% of the vote.
Young ran again in the 2020 Democratic primary for the seat but lost overwhelmingly to Josh Hicks, receiving only 4% of the vote.
Most recently in 2022, Young lost the Democratic primary to Christopher Preece, capturing 48.3% of the vote. This was Young’s closest primary contest yet for the seat.
Young has also made multiple unsuccessful gubernatorial runs in Kentucky over the years.
As discussed above, Young competed in the 2015 Democratic gubernatorial primary but finished last.
In 2019, Young ran again for Governor in the Democratic primary. However, he again came in last place with just 2.3% of the vote behind Andy Beshear, Rocky Adkins, and Adam Edelen.
In 2023, Young filed to run once more for Governor of Kentucky in the Democratic primary. However, he was defeated decisively by incumbent Andy Beshear, garnering only 5.1% of the vote.
Young has staked out staunchly progressive positions on a range of issues throughout his campaigns.
On domestic policy, Young supports Medicare for All, abortion rights, legalizing marijuana, expanded workers’ rights and unions, taxing the wealthy, transitioning to renewable energy, and abolishing the death penalty. He has called for a 50% cut to military spending to enable greater investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
In terms of foreign policy, Young advocates for a non-interventionist approach. He wants to withdraw troops from overseas, cut the military budget, and prevent deploying the National Guard abroad. Young believes the U.S. is too aggressive militarily, arguing this would have appalled the Founding Fathers. He feels an aggressive foreign policy creates too many enemies and makes America less safe.
Additionally, Young supports campaign finance reform to reduce money’s influence in politics. He backs abolishing the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote for president. Young has alleged corruption in the candidate selection process of both the Kentucky Democratic and Republican parties. He supports ending this corruption regardless of partisan politics.
Lawsuits and Controversies
Young has been involved in several lawsuits and controversies related to his campaigns and activism over the years.
In 2015, he filed a lawsuit alleging the Kentucky Democratic Party rigged the gubernatorial primary against him through their “Unity Rally” for Jack Conway. The party maintained they did nothing illegal and had the right to select their preferred nominee.
In 2018, Young drew criticism for pelting Andy Barr’s campaign office with horse manure to protest Barr’s stances. Young defended his act of protest as nonviolent civil disobedience.
In 2021, Young filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Andy Barr’s 2021 congressional election victory over Democrat Josh Hicks. Young claimed the election process was corrupted to enable Barr’s win.
In conclusion, Geoff Young has made his mark as an idiosyncratic figure in Kentucky politics over the past decade through his numerous outsider campaigns. While unsuccessful in his electoral bids, Young has consistently advocated a staunch progressive policy agenda focused on anti-war foreign policy, domestic reform, and reducing money’s influence in politics. His confrontational tactics have embroiled him in various controversies yet also earned him a reputation as a bold, uncompromising critic of entrenched interests in both parties. Whether one agrees with him or not, Young has injected unconventional perspectives into Kentucky’s political discourse through his repeated campaigns and activism.
What offices has Geoff Young run for?
Young has run unsuccessfully for various offices in Kentucky since 2012, including Governor, U.S. Congress, and state legislature as a Democrat, Green Party member, and Republican.
What are some of Young’s key policy positions?
Young supports progressive stances like Medicare for All, legalizing marijuana, taxing the wealthy, transitioning to renewable energy, cutting military spending, and abolishing the death penalty.
What is Young’s view on foreign policy?
He advocates for a non-interventionist foreign policy approach. Young wants to bring troops home, cut the military budget, and stop the National Guard from deploying abroad.
What controversies has Young been involved in?
He sued the Kentucky Democratic Party for alleged corruption in their 2015 gubernatorial primary. In 2018, he threw horse manure at Andy Barr’s campaign office in protest. In 2021, he challenged Barr’s congressional victory in court.
Why does Young keep running for office if he always loses?
While unsuccessful electorally, Young’s outsider campaigns have given him a platform to criticize both parties and promote his progressive policy priorities as an unconventional candidate.