Attacks fly as controversial Kentucky gubernatorial election campaign begins

FRANKFORT, Kentucky (AP) – The Kentucky gubernatorial general election this week saw Democrats try to tie the newly elected Republican nominee to a much-criticized pardon by his ousted predecessor, Andy Beshear. , got off to a brisk start. He is seeking a second term in the Republican field.

Republicans have united behind their own attacks, declaring at a rally on Friday that Mr. Beshear has exaggerated his role in the achievements he attributes to actions taken by the Republican-led Congress.

“The governor is holding a press conference to honor the sunrise,” said Republican Senate Speaker Robert Stibers. “And tonight he will probably give a press conference to credit Sunset.”

Republicans, led by governor candidate Daniel Cameron, ridiculed the governor’s track record, but Mr. Beshear remained largely out of contention. Touting the state’s record pace of economic development projects, Beshear plans to deliver more while trekking through Kentucky on a bus tour, he said.

“We can be the generation that changes everything in Kentucky,” Beshear told more than 200 supporters who chanted “Andy, Andy,” at an afternoon rally in western Kentucky in Owensboro. “Brain drain can be turned into brain gain.”

Even if there were questions about the national interest in the campaign that could foreshadow voter psychology heading into the 2024 presidential election, those questions were raised by party-affiliated groups’ heavy advertising campaigns against Cameron on statewide television. It was calmed down by launching Democratic Governors Association.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, chairman of the association, has vowed to spend heavily on Kentucky for Mr. Beshear, “perhaps at a historic pace to ensure his re-election.” and

The association-sponsored ad criticizes the Kentucky Attorney General, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Tuesday’s primary.for former Gov. Matt Bevin’s failure to hold accountable for issuing hundreds of pardons and waivers in the final days of his presidency and neglecting his duties.

The newspaper said it failed to appoint a special counsel to investigate Bevin’s last-minute pardons for violent criminals and others before Cameron stepped down following his defeat to Beshear in the 2019 election. He claims that he “failed”.

Prime Minister Cameron joined other Republican statewide candidates for office Friday at a rally at the state’s Republican Party headquarters to allow the early release of some nonviolent inmates in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. objected to the governor’s decision. Cameron said some of those released had committed new crimes. Most of them were non-violent drug and property offenders who were released to help slow the spread of the virus in prisons, the governor said.

Cameron called himself a “law and order candidate” and derisively called his Democratic opponent a “catch and release candidate”.

The governor said Cameron’s remarks reflected the contrasting tones between his campaigns.

Mr Beshear told reporters at a rally in Owensboro, “While I’m outside talking about the future and trying to unite us and move forward, not right or left, what I hear from the opposition is swearing. It’s just an attempt to create division and division.” .

The Democrats’ attack ads are the first salvo of what promises to be a hotly contested election. This heralded a strategy to unite Cameron and Bevin, but Bevin’s belligerent style was rejected by many Kentuckians, who favored Beshear four years ago.

Sam Newton, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, said: “Rather than shift the blame again, Prime Minister Daniel Cameron refuses to get to the bottom of this dangerous scandal and criticize Bevin and his people, not Kentuckians. “Did you stand on the side of your entourage? Ultimately, we have to answer.” Friday news release.

Cameron came just weeks into his tenure as attorney general when he asked the FBI to investigate Bevin’s spate of pardons. The amnesty includes amnesty for a convicted murderer whose family held a fundraiser for Bevin and a convicted sex offender whose mother was married to a millionaire road contractor. was also included. Bevin’s actions drew a bipartisan backlash.

Mr Cameron said the Democrats’ attack ads were “absolutely ridiculous”. He said his decision to hand over the investigation to the FBI received wide support at the time. Cameron also suggested Mr Beshear’s record was ripe for attack.

“This is a record that does not reflect the values ​​of men, women and children in all 120 counties,” Cameron said in Kentucky.

Mr. Beshear broke through the gates early in the general election campaign after months of offensive from the crowded camp of Republicans vying to challenge him in November. Beshear launched his first ad on Thursday, highlighting record economic progress during his term and the state’s resilience after being hit by devastating tornadoes and floods.

In another development of the Bevin pardon scandal, Prime Minister Cameron hired Steve Pitt, Bevin’s legal adviser, as one of his top advisers to the Attorney General’s Office. In 2020, the Courier-Journal reported that Pitt helped facilitate one of Bevin’s controversial last-minute pardons while serving as the governor’s general counsel.

State Democratic Party Chairman Colmon Ellridge said earlier this week that Cameron’s response was “a slap in the face against victims, their families, law enforcement and prosecutors for keeping dangerous criminals off the streets.”

Cameron, Kentucky’s first major-party black gubernatorial nominee, won a convincing victory over 12 candidates on Tuesday. Beshear easily defeated two lesser-known challengers in his own primary.


Associated Press writer Sarah Burnett contributed from Chicago.

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