Beshear family makes history with father and son serving as governor of Kentucky

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and former first lady Jane Beshear talk to WKYT's Sam Dick about their family's historic role in the state's top office. (WKYT)
Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and former first lady Jane Beshear talk to WKYT's Sam Dick about their family's historic role in the state's top office. (WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 1:58 PM EST
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The inauguration for Governor-elect Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, will make history. For the first time, a father and son will have been elected governor in Kentucky.

Steve Beshear served two terms in the state's top office from 2007 to 2015.

WKYT"s Sam Dick sat down with Steve and Jane Beshear at their central Kentucky home to talk about their son growing up in politics, a rough campaign full of name-calling, and their advice to a young governor and first lady.

"It will certainly be an unusual Christmas because this is the first time it’s happened in Kentucky's history that a father and son have both been governor of this state," said Steve Beshear.

The Beshear family, by any measure, had a pretty special year. Steve and Jane celebrated 50 years of marriage last May, on the very same day their son Andy won the Democratic nomination for governor, and they were on stage last month for his victory night celebration.

"Proud is, you know, there's not even a big enough word to say how we felt that night," said Jane Beshear.

"As Jane said, there's really not a big enough word to cover your feelings. To see somebody you've raised end up in that position is just amazing," said the former governor.

From an early age, Andy Beshear grew up in a family immersed in politics. His father was a state lawmaker, state attorney-general, lieutenant governor, and then two-term governor. At what point did they think Andy might be headed to politics?

"From the day he was born, he's just always, this has always been an interest of his," said the former first lady. "All through his junior and high school [years], he was so active, all those types of activities that had to do with government. Even as a young person, and he majored in political science, and ended up helping Steve in all his campaigns."

The Beshears have experienced the pain of losing a statewide race. Steve Beshear lost a governor's and a U-S Senate race. But the pain they didn't fully expect came from the harsh words in the campaign directed at their son, and family.

Governor Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, tweeted last July, "For those Kentuckians who did not get enough corruption, self-dealing, embezzlement, and bribery during the eight

corrupt years of Governor Steve Beshear, his son, Andy is now offering a chance for four more years of the same."

Jane Beshear told WKYT she was angry.

"That was hard to take, and it's one thing to hear someone say that about your husband, and even worse to say it about your son. So, Sam, I'm sorry, sometimes we just had to turn it off," said Jane Beshear.

"Correct me if I'm wrong," asked Sam Dick, "But when these things were said about you and your family, I don't remember either one of you coming out publically and making a big deal about, 'No, this isn't true.'"

"No, and we did that on purpose because if I had stepped out and started defending us, then the race becomes about him and me. And it wasn't about me. It was about Andy Beshear, and it had to stay focused on Andy Beshear," said the former governor.

They say their son's victory has taken some of the sting away.

Both parents have offered advice for the new governor and first lady and their two small children.

Jane says she told the new first lady, "Don't try to do the things that I did, because Steve and I had no children, it was just us, and I had the time to be able to do [things]. Britainy's most important jobs are those two children, Will and Lila, to make sure that they get the best education, and that they are well adjusted."

They believe their son will lead with compassion, and a willingness to cross party lines, something they say is crucial since both houses of the legislature are controlled by Republicans.

"He's making sure that people remember that after an election, we're Kentuckians first, and Democrats and Republicans second," said Steve Beshear.

With Christmas just a few weeks off, the Beshear family has a lot to feel thankful for.

"What a gift, to be able to have your son being the next governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, best present, I don't think we've got a tree big enough to put that gift under," said Jane Beshear.

One of the inauguration traditions is the Grand March at the Capitol Rotunda in the evening when the governor, lt. governor and other constitutional officers are formally presented, along with their families. This will be the fifth Grand March for Andy Beshear, the first three as his dad's son, then as attorney-general, and now as the governor of Kentucky.

Inauguration Day is set for Dec. 10.

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