Cameron, Beshear to face off in Kentucky’s governor race

Cameron, Beshear to face off in Kentucky’s governor race
Cameron, Beshear to face off in Kentucky’s governor race(WKYT)
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT/AP) - We now know who will be on the ballot on Election Day in the race for governor of Kentucky.

Voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who came out on top among a field of 12 GOP candidates.

Cameron turned away from a bid for reelection as attorney general to run for governor, a race many Republicans think is ripe for the taking, but the primary campaign was unexpectedly feisty.

Cameron snagged the campaign’s biggest endorsement from Trump and touted his legal fights defending Kentucky’s anti-abortion laws, all the while challenging policy decisions by Beshear and working to tie him to President Joe Biden’s administration.

Cameron is Kentucky’s first Black nominee for governor by either major political party.

His main rival, Kelly Craft, mounted an aggressive campaign backed by her family’s fortune. Craft pointed to her experience as ambassador to Canada and later at the United Nations during Trump’s presidency. She touts her ties with government and business leaders, which she says would benefit Kentucky.

The campaign escalated into a slugfest between the Craft and Cameron camps. A pro-Craft group ridiculed Cameron as an “establishment teddy bear.” Cameron backers criticized Craft’s tenure as ambassador.

Another GOP gubernatorial contender, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, stayed out of the fray, hoping to win over Republican voters turned off by the attacks.

As the campaign entered the stretch run, Craft had loaned her campaign more than $9 million. She was on the air for months before Cameron and Quarles ran TV ads. Cameron got a boost from a well-financed outside group.

Beshear, who cruised through the primary over two nominal opponents, looks to draw on his family’s political brand to counter the state’s GOP tilt. He was attorney general four years ago when he defeated then-Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Before Bevin’s single term, Steve Beshear, the current governor’s father, served two terms as governor.

Beshear has presided over record economic growth. His term also has been marked by a series of crises — the pandemic, tornadoes, flooding and a mass shooting that killed one of his closest friends. He has received consistently high voter approval ratings, in part by settling into a role as the state’s consoler-in-chief.