On July 19, 2009, Beshear announced his intention to run for re-election. However, in that announcement, he stated that then-Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson would be his running mate in 2011 because current Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo had chosen to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Kentucky state law requires that gubernatorial candidates file to run with running mates, otherwise they cannot legally raise money. Beshear wanted to fundraise and this would have required Mongiardo also saying that he was running in 2011, which he couldn't do. Beshear and Abramson did not face any opposition for the Democratic nomination.
Among Republicans, Kentucky State Senate President David Williams from Burkesville announced his official candidacy along with running mate Richie Farmer, the term-limited State Agriculture Commissioner and former Kentucky Wildcats basketball player. Louisville businessman Phil Moffett also announced his ticket with State Representative Mike Harmon from Danville as his running mate. Moffett was seen as the Tea Party favorite. However, Williams also advocated for similar positions as Moffett, such as the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and promoting tax reforms similar to what Moffett proposed.
Attorney Gatewood Galbraith of Lexington filed to run his fourth gubernatorial campaign as an independent on July 4, 2009, choosing marketing consultant Dea Riley as his running mate.