Incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky kicked off his campaign for re-election with a massive bus tour over the weekend, criss-crossing the state in an effort to consolidate his support as one of the nation’s most popular governors while Republicans hoping to flip the governor’s mansion red looked to unite following a brutal primary race.
Beshear sailed to victory in his own primary last Tuesday as he garnered more than 90% of the vote in a three-way race, a widely expected result considering he’s enjoyed one of the highest approval ratings for any governor in the country, according to polls , despite being one of the nation’s few Democratic governors of a red state.
Republicans, however, endured a contentious race full of attacks and negative political ads that ultimately saw Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron come out on top of his two fellow front-runners, but with less than 50% of the vote.
The race between Beshear and Cameron is being widely viewed as a bellwether for the 2024 elections, and is Republicans’ top target for the 2023 off-year election cycle, something the Beshear campaign is not taking lightly.
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“The governor knows you have to earn this job; we’re not taking anything for granted in this race,” a spokesperson for the Beshear campaign told Fox News as the tour neared Louisville on Sunday, one of the last of its more than a dozen stops of the tour that included Paducah, Elizabethtown, Bowling Green and Lexington.
“That’s why we hit the ground running this weekend with a 13-city, three-day bus tour all across our Commonwealth to talk with Kentuckians about our record-breaking economic growth, the 46,000 more jobs we’ve added since before the pandemic and major bipartisan accomplishments from new infrastructure projects to sports betting and medical marijuana,” he added.
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When asked why voters should choose Beshear over Cameron, the spokesperson told Fox his candidacy was about building a future for Kentucky, and that his first term of “record-setting economic development” was putting the state “on a path for 30 years of prosperity” .” He also touted lower income taxes, the state’s record budget surplus and the lowest unemployment rate in Kentucky history.
Beshear’s spokesperson didn’t flinch at the challenge of him winning re-election in state with no other Democrats elected to statewide office other than the governor and lieutenant governor, who run on a ticket together, and touted his focus on Democratic and Republican-leaning Kentuckians alike.
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“Throughout his time as governor, Andy Beshear has focused on getting things done and building a better Kentucky for everyone – regardless of their party. Economic growth, good-paying jobs and desperately-needed projects like clean drinking water aren’t partisan issues; there are no Democrat or Republican bridges,” he said.
“It’s why Andy Beshear has signed 627 bipartisan bills into law. He’s managed to pass major accomplishments for our Commonwealth, like a $15,000 raise for our law enforcement, the largest ever public investment in broadband, infrastructure projects like the Brent Spence Bridge – with no tolls – and bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana and sports betting,” he added.
Kentucky Republicans are just as confident. Speaking with the Fox on Monday, Sean Southard, the spokesperson for the state GOP, said each of the party’s campaigns had already consolidated behind its nominee.
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“The party united behind Daniel as the nominee on election night. All candidates have pledged to Daniel to help his campaign. We’ve never had a more qualified or united slate of candidates up and down the ballot,” he said.
“To that end, look at the poll released by the Cameron campaign last night taken after his win: he’s in a statistical tie with Beshear. We are going to fire Joe Biden’s man in Kentucky this November,” he added, referencing internal Cameron campaign polls.
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The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7.