JP Lyninger, a Socialist for Louisville Metro Council

Louisville DSA is taking on its most ambitious electoral campaign yet, running a chapter cadre to organize for the working class at City Hall.


Since 2018, Louisville DSA has run impressive socialist legislative and electoral campaigns, building internal expertise and rooting itself in local struggles. This year the chapter is running JP Lyninger, an experienced organizer, DSA cadre, and Bread & Roses member, for a seat on the Louisville Metro Council (primary day: May 21). JP will use his office to organize constituents, build working-class power, and fight the elite interests that run Louisville for their private benefit.

From a Mayoral Loss to a Statewide Win

When Louisville DSA (LDSA) decided to endorse a long-shot mayoral candidate in 2018, the fledgling socialist organization had not yet developed a clear electoral program that could grapple with the issues facing the city. The campaign was unsuccessful, but had a positive outcome of cohering both LDSA and a nascent left electoral base that had not yet been identified or developed by Louisville’s other political structures. Since then, the chapter has organized to build  a political apparatus that functions more like a party. 

The chapter’s electoral committee began studying which elections and districts were appropriate to target. The chapter adopted a platform laying out its political agenda, refined its electoral strategy, and built an electoral academy to train future candidates and campaign staff. This work has been done in concert with rank-and-file oriented labor organizing, pressure campaigns to restructure the city budget away from policing into public services, and building a YDSA chapter at the University of Louisville.

All of this work developed side-by-side with repeated runs for office. First, in 2020, the chapter ran campaigns for Louisville Metro Council with Ryan Fenwick and Robert LeVertis Bell. Then in 2022, the chapter endorsed Tyler Lamon (for Metro Council) and Robert LeVertis Bell (this time for state representative). These were model DSA campaigns: cadre candidates with campaigns staffed by committed DSA organizers, rooted in class struggle and grassroots organizing. In 2022 the campaigns combined to knock 20,000 doors. Unfortunately, the results in all of these were narrow losses, one by as narrow a margin as 51 votes.

The chapter also has wins to be proud of. DSA member Chris Kolb won a seat on the JCPS School Board in 2016 and was re-elected in 2020. In 2022, three chapter members won seats  to the local Soil and Water Conservation District Board, which is a potential launching board for campaigns that address climate change. Perhaps the biggest victory was the chapter’s Access for All KY campaign in 2022, which raised $87,000 and sent over 3 million texts to Kentucky voters to stop an anti-abortion constitutional amendment. Many groups organized too, and the amendment lost 52%-48%; the DSA effort may have tipped the scales. 

JP Lyninger Will Bring a Fighting Movement Into City Government

LDSA member JP Lyninger was integral to many of these campaigns; he helped write the chapter’s platform and electoral strategy, he managed Robert Bell’s 2022 run for state representative, and he co-managed the Access for All KY campaign with fellow Bread & Roses member Greta Smith. Now JP has taken on another challenge: running for Louisville Metro Council in District 6. His campaign staff draws in experienced organizers from throughout Louisville DSA. Many of us were involved in Tyler Lamon’s 2022 campaign, while others were led the A4A effort in 2022. Together, we hope to build upon our past work and do what we couldn’t before. We plan to win.

The premise behind this campaign is simple: Louisville Metro Government does not represent working people, nor does it address our needs. The donor class that helps elect the mayor and all of the Metro Council wants the austerity budgets of the past to continue; they support the the police and jails getting 40% of our budget while our necessary services starve. The ruling class in Louisville needs a weak city government, incapable of fighting to improve the life of everyday Louisvillians, and who are happy to point to the intransigent state government as an excuse for their willful neglect. 

District 6, as one of the most progressive in Louisville, is ripe for a democratic socialist campaign. The issues most important to working-class voters everywhere are at the forefront of District 6 voters’ minds. The district has one of the highest rates of renters in Kentucky; as rents rise and the housing crisis intensifies in Louisville, a candidate willing to speak out against the power of the real estate developer class strikes a chord with voters worried about housing affordability. The incumbent voted for a $114 million tax break to a single real estate developer to build a single luxury housing development; JP would vote no on handouts like that. 

People want change, you can hear it in their voices at the doors and on the streets. District 6 lacks a grocery store, and Louisville doesn’t invest in enough public transit for many residents to get to one. Younger voters, such as students at the University of Louisville have been energized by protest movements against Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza. JP has been deeply involved in this movement, organizing or a ceasefire resolution on the Louisville Metro Council. Many District 6 voters are deeply opposed to the racist violence of Louisville’s police, who murdered Breonna Taylor. The incumbent city councilman spends his discretionary funds on police overtime; JP would redirect them to services that work for the working class.

This election will come down to whether voters want to keep the status quo of Louisville politics or move in a new direction. Do voters want an advocate happy to say good things rather than fight for them? Or do they want a lifelong organizer ready to fight alongside working people as they build the power we need to take back our city from wealthy developers, CEOs, and the empty suits they put in city government? 

At the doors, JP’s pitch to undecided voters is that this campaign for change is not just about the why, but also about the how. Louisville has the chance to bring a fighting movement and an organizing spirit into office, to take the fight into the belly of the governmental beast. By electing JP Lyninger on May 21, we can make a great leap towards democratic socialism in Louisville.

Nick Conder is a member of the Louisville DSA Steering Committee and the Steering Committee of DSA’s National Electoral Commission. He is a library worker and vice president of AFSCME Local 3425.