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AG Daniel Cameron makes first campaign stop in Louisville as Republican nominee for Ky. governor

Attorney General Daniel Cameron at the Republicans' 2019 Election Party
J. Tyler Franklin
Attorney General Daniel Cameron at the Republicans' 2019 Election Party

In his first Jefferson County event since winning the Republican gubernatorial primary in May, Attorney General Daniel Cameron rallied volunteers as he campaigns for the general election against Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear.

At the Jefferson County Republican Party’s headquarters Saturday, dozens of members, party leaders, and state legislators gathered to hear Attorney General Daniel Cameron speak at his first campaign event in Louisville since winning the nomination for Kentucky governor.

Cameron beat out Ryan Quarles, Kelly Craft and nine other Republicans in the primary last month to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in November. The race has already gained national attention and some Kentucky political experts say it will likely be one of the most closely watched races this year.

The event Saturday was primarily a meet and greet with Cameron before several volunteers split away to begin canvassing for him. In his speech, Cameron covered his platform, including fighting what he called an economic decline in the state, railing against “gender ideology curriculum” in school and espousing anti-abortion and anti-gun control rhetoric.

“You all are the foot soldiers in the ground game that makes sure that we contrast between Andy Beshear’s vision and the one vision that represents the men, women and children of all 120 counties,” Cameron said. “A vision that says that we are going to protect our most vulnerable, our most cherished asset — our unborn — and a vision that says that we are going to continue to preserve and defend our Second Amendment right.”

Cameron also pointed to a recent poll from a Republican firm, Cygnal, which found Beshear in a dead heat with Cameron.

“If we hold that, and if we expand that, this race is over,” Cameron said.

Jefferson County has long been a stronghold for Democrats in an increasingly red state. In 2019, Beshear won the county with 67% of the vote against Republican incumbent Matt Bevin. Though the Cygnal poll of 600 likely Kentucky voters released Thursday showed Beshear and Cameron tied with 47% of the vote each if the general election were held that day, other surveys have shown Beshear to be one of the most popular Democratic governors in the country.

A Morning Consult Political Intelligence survey from January found him to be one of the country’s 10 most popular governors with six in 10 voters approving of his job performance. In this year’s Democratic primary election, Beshear won with about 91% of the vote.

Robin Edwards, 68, attended Saturday’s rally for Cameron. Edwards said she used to identify as a Democrat but began registering as a Republican in the 1990s. She said the issues that drove her to become active in the party and support Cameron are education and crime.

Edwards said she was also very unhappy during the lockdown that Beshear imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cameron also emphasized the lockdowns in his speech, including his own record of fighting Beshear on those closures.

But Edwards and several other attendees said they were skeptical about Cameron’s ability to sway Jefferson County red. Edwards said she plans to volunteer for the campaign’s phone banks but is afraid to put up a sign in her yard for Cameron for fear of what her neighbors would think.

“I don't know how well we're going to turn Jefferson County, but I intend to work on it,” Edwards said.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.