Kentucky Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear captured a second term Tuesday, defeating Daniel Cameron, the state’s attorney general and Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s handpicked candidate for his home state governorship.
Cameron entered the race having built a reputation as a conservative firebrand on cultural issues from his time as the state’s top prosecutor. In June, Cameron became the first black major party nominee for the governor in Kentucky history when he carried the Republican primary over Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft. Cameron, a former McConnell aid who had the Republican Senate leader at his wedding in 2020, was described as the octogenarian lawmaker’s “protégé” throughout the race. The senator’s chief of staff even ran Cameron’s campaign. Polling shows McConnell is the least popular politician in America.
Elected attorney general in 2018, Cameron defended a grand jury’s decision not to indict Louisville police officers in the 2020 shooting of Breonna Taylor. The press conference announcing the jury’s decision drew racist condemnations from far-left pundits who called Cameron an “Uncle Tom” and said he was “skinfolk,” not “kinfolk.”
Cameron was also one of 13 attorneys general last year who demanded the Biden administration “stand down” on efforts to prosecute critics of transgender medical interventions for minors. That same year, Cameron pushed for a state constitutional ballot measure that would have kept courts from recognizing a right to abortion. While Kentucky voters rejected the initiative 52 to 48 percent, Cameron swiftly filed a motion with the state’s Supreme Court “to explain why this outcome has no bearing on whether the Court should consider creating a Kentucky version of Roe v. Wade.”
“While this result is disappointing, it does not change our belief that there is no right to abortion hidden in the Kentucky Constitution and that the regulation of abortion policy is a matter that belongs to our elected representatives in the General Assembly,” Cameron said last November.
The few polls in the Kentucky governor’s contest this year showed the incumbent Democrat governor as the clear favorite to win re-election in the Bluegrass state, which voted for former President Donald Trump 62 percent to 36 percent. Late-race polling from Emerson College, however, offered warning signs for Democrats with a 17-point flip from a 16-point lead in early October to a one-point deficit against Cameron at the beginning of November.
Spencer Kimball, the executive director for Emerson College polling, said, “Cameron appears to have gained ground by consolidating Republican voters who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In October, 54 percent of Trump supporters supported Cameron; now, as election day approaches, that number has jumped to 79 percent – a 25-point increase.
“Notably, October’s poll was of registered voters in Kentucky, while this final election poll includes only those who are very likely or have already voted in Kentucky,” Kimball added.