Kentucky’s top House Democrat won’t seek re-election, will retire from the legislature

One of the highest ranking Democrats in Frankfort announced Friday he will retire from the legislature.

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, said he won’t seek re-election, saying it was “time to give someone else the chance” to run for the seat he’s held for more than 20 years.

As the Jan. 5 deadline to file for office looms, no other person has yet to file for his seat. Graham was first elected to the seat, which covers a majority of Franklin County, in 2002.

“For more than 30 years now, the people of Frankfort and Franklin County have given me the privilege to be their voice in both local and state offices, and I have used that opportunity to advocate on their behalf and to protect and promote our state and local government workers and public education,” Graham said in a statement.

“However, I feel strongly that now is the time to give someone else the chance to be our next state representative, a job I have loved since first being elected in 2002.”

Graham made history last year by becoming the first African-American to lead a legislative caucus in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Prior to leading the House Democratic caucus, Graham served as caucus chair and also chaired the House Education Committee right before Democrats lost the House majority, from 2013 to 2016. Before holding office at the Capitol, Graham served as a Frankfort city councilman for nearly a decade in the 1990s.

In a statement, he praised the Frankfort community.

“Whether in office or out, I will never stop doing all I can for the community I love and that made me who I am today,” Graham wrote. “There’s no better place to work, live and — as I’ll soon find out — retire.”

Graham said he plans to enjoy retirement with his wife, Mildred.

“Being an elected official takes a lot of your time, and your family pays that price as well,” Graham said. “I promised my wife that I would begin to scale that back so we can truly enjoy our retirement, and this decision will fulfill that goal.”