Andy Beshear to face Daniel Cameron in 2023 race for Kentucky governor
Attorney General Daniel Cameron beat 11 competitors to secure the Republican nomination in Kentucky’s race for governor. He’ll face incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the November general election.
The Associated Press called the race for Cameron, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump, with about 45% of votes. At the time, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles had 21% of the vote and former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft had 18%.
Beshear easily won the Democratic nomination with 93% of votes when the Democratic race was called early in the 7:00 hour. In an interview with KET shortly after his win, Beshear emphasized his commitment to economic development.
“It shouldn’t be about me or any of my opponents. It should be about the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said. “I want to be the governor that turns our brain drain into a brain gain.”
This year’s gubernatorial race is particularly consequential, as Kentucky’s electorate has become increasingly Republican in recent years. Voters will decide in November whether Democrats will keep the state’s highest office.
In his acceptance speech, Cameron decried Beshear’s stances on education, crime and COVID-19 policies, calling on Republicans to unite to unseat him in November.
“New leadership is needed now more than ever,” Cameron said in his speech. “We have one mission – and that mission is to retire Andy Beshear from the governor’s office.”
Cameron is a 37-year-old finishing his first term as attorney general. He worked as a lawyer for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who encouraged him to run for the state's top law enforcement job in 2019.
Since becoming an elected official, he has repeatedly challenged Beshear in court and defended the state's near-total ban on abortion. He drew controversy for not indicting officers for killing Breonna Taylor in the 2020 fatal raid that sparked widespread protests.
Beshear is finishing his first term as governor after serving one four-year term as attorney general. He narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Matt Bevin during the 2019 election, and took office shortly before the coronavirus pandemic. Though his policymaking has been stymied by the Republican-led legislature, he gained widespread prominence after holding live press conference throughout the pandemic and natural disasters that took place in 2021 and 2022.
In the lead-up to Election Day, Cameron and Craft tried to galvanize voters by bringing in major national names in GOP politics.
Trump campaigned for Cameron at a tele-rally on the weekend before the election. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to soon announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, endorsed Craft last-minute on Monday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also campaigned with Craft on Saturday.
Campaigning for the GOP nomination involved heated debates between the frontrunners, each of whom tried to position as the most likely to unseat Beshear. The candidates repeatedly decried gun control measures and abortion access, while diverging in their views on certain legislative proposals like the auctioning of confiscated guns.
Discussion of a so-called “woke agenda,” a national Republican rallying cry, also took center stage in the GOP candidates’ platforms.
Craft, in particular, made anti-transgender rhetoric a key component of her campaign. She faced criticism for stating Kentucky would “not have transgenders in our school system” if she were elected governor.
“I know that our movement has had lasting impressions on Kentuckians across the Commonwealth,” Craft said in her concession speech Tuesday evening. “We all left it all on the table.”
In her speech, Craft also condemned attacks from her opponents throughout her campaign.
Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams warned of low voter turnout ahead of Election Day. Stormy conditions in much of the state may have further deterred voters from heading to the polls.
The General Election is on Nov. 7.