FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Steve Beshear was sworn in as Kentucky
governor in a private, midnight ceremony in the Executive Mansion,
completing an unlikely political comeback 20 years after he last
held an elective office.
After losing his first attempt at the job in 1987, Beshear had
given up aspirations of becoming governor. However, the Lexington
attorney made an unplanned return to Kentucky politics earlier this
year, jumping into the governor's race after trying unsuccessfully
to persuade other prominent Democrats to run.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Kentuckians as
governor," Beshear said. "I look forward to the days and years
ahead as we work together to make this the best, most prosperous
state it can be."
Joe Gershtenson, director of the Center for Kentucky History and
Politics at Eastern Kentucky University, said Beshear pulled off a
remarkable feat by returning to state politics after such a long
absence and being sworn in as governor.
"It's got to be a nice feeling," he said.
Beshear, who became the state's 61st governor, was sworn in
early Tuesday by Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham, who
administered Kentucky's traditional and archaic constitutional
oath. In addition to a customary vow to uphold the law, the oath
required Beshear to swear that he has never fought a duel with
deadly weapons - a holdover from Kentucky's frontier days.
Newly elected Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo was sworn in with the
same oath by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sarah Walter Combs
Beshear's first official act was expected to be the signing of
an executive order appointing Brig. Gen. Edward W. Tonini as
adjutant general for the Kentucky National Guard, said spokeswoman
Vicki Glass. That move satisfies a constitutional mandate that the
job never go unfilled.
Beshear previously announced Tonini as his choice for adjutant
general. He already has named several other people to fill key
positions in his administration.
After a worship service at 8 a.m. EST Tuesday and an inaugural
parade that begins at 10 a.m., Beshear is scheduled to be publicly
sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Mary C. Noble at 2 p.m., after
which he is to deliver an inaugural address outside the Capitol.
Beshear, 63, has said he thought his political career was over
long ago. But he reconsidered at the urging of friends and
political advisers. He went on to win a crowded Democratic primary
in the spring and later toppled incumbent GOP candidate Ernie
Fletcher in a lopsided victory.
Fletcher, who was the first Republican elected Kentucky governor
in more than 30 years, had been politically weakened by an
indictment charging that he rewarded politically connected
Republicans with jobs at the expense of Democrats.
The son of a Baptist preacher, Beshear had climbed the political
ladder in the 1970s and 1980s as a state lawmaker, attorney general
and lieutenant governor. He lost in his first run for governor in
1987, then failed in a 1996 run for the U.S. Senate.
After that, he had faded from the political scene.
"He is very excited," Glass said. "He's looking forward to
helping make Kentucky a better place. He's ready to hit the ground
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)