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Gov. Andy Beshear calls for Kentucky to 'move forward together’ in second inaugural address

Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife Britainy wave to the crowd at the public swearing in ceremony in Frankfort, Kentucky on Dec. 12, 2023.
J. Tyler Franklin
/
LPM
Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife Britainy wave to the crowd at the public swearing in ceremony in Frankfort, Kentucky on Dec. 12, 2023.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear took the oath of office Tuesday for his second and final time, officially making him one of only three consecutive second-term governors in state history.

Thousands of Kentuckians gathered in Frankfort for a day of pageantry beginning with a traditional breakfast, worship service, parade and performances from notable Kentucky artists.

At its epicenter was a Democratic governor in a deep red state calling for the country to move past the “toxic” politics of the moment.

“Right now the eyes of the country are on us. They are on Kentucky. And the next four years are our chance to lead and to move forward together,” Beshear said in the moments before taking his second public oath of office.

Kentuckians reelected the 46-year-old attorney and son of two-term gov. Steve Beshear to a second term in November. He defeated Republican challenger Attorney General Daniel Cameron by about 5% in a campaign that pushed for bipartisanship and advocated against divisive political strategies.

“[They are] turning people against their neighbors, why? Just so we can elect one more official with a certain letter behind their name,” Beshear said. “Listen, I ran for office because I believe my kids deserve a better world, and I believe every child of the Commonwealth deserves that better world.”

In his first term, Beshear faced numerous challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to deadly tornadoes and devastating flooding.

At the same time, the state reaped a record $28.5 billion in private sector investments, record low-unemployment and saw the creation of more than 50,000 new jobs, Beshear said. He also touted infrastructure and manufacturing accomplishments including the Brent Spence Companion Bridge and new electric vehicle battery plants.

“This is Kentucky’s chance to be the difference. To be both an economic and a moral leader of this country. So we must face this challenge the way we always do. Together,” Beshear said.

Beshear has frequently quarreled with the Republican-dominated legislature, battling over issues like the state’s near total ban on abortion and a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

The next legislative session begins Jan. 2. Beshear’s calls for bipartisanship will be put to the test as lawmakers work to pass a two-year budget. Republican legislators were able to easily override Beshear’s vetoes throughout his first term.

Ahead of Beshear’s public swearing in ceremony, Lieutenant Gov. Jacqueline Coleman took her oath on stage after championing universal pre-K, better teacher pay and equal representation.

“We can all agree that every Kentuckian, young and old, male and female, all colors, all faiths deserve to feel they belong if this is truly to be the people’s house,” Coleman said.

The Kentucky State University Concert Choir and Kentucky National Guard band serenaded the audience before the public swearing in ceremony.

Kentucky’s first openly gay Poet Laureate Silas House performed a piece as did Grammy-nominated country singer Tyler Childers performing alongside two other native Kentuckians.

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.