Kentucky Attorney General Files for the 2023 Governor’s Race

know about Kentucky Attorney General Files for the 2023 Governor’s Race

FRANKFORT, Kentucky (AP) — Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed papers Wednesday to enter the state’s gubernatorial race in 2023, hoping to take his fights against abortion and the Democratic incumbent’s coronavirus restrictions on the governor’s office.

Cameron, hailed by Republican leaders as a rising star in the party, made history in 2019 as the first African-American to serve as state attorney general. He is now trying to blaze another trail in his attempt to deny Gov. Andy Beshear a second term. But first, Cameron will have to navigate a tough Republican primary that includes other state officials now seeking Kentucky’s top political job.

Cameron, a former University of Louisville football player, said in a campaign video that the Bluegrass State “needs a new coach, one who will strengthen us, not divide us.” Beshear has fought a series of political battles with the Republican-dominated state legislature. But Cameron has drawn criticism for his handling of an investigation into the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by police in 2020, and the polarizing issue could draw more scrutiny as Cameron seeks higher office.

In his campaign opening speech, Cameron focused on Beshear’s COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Cameron also promised to “defend life,” a reference to his anti-abortion views.

“Andy Beshear is not bringing Kentucky together,” Cameron said in the video. “This governor does not reflect our values. He is never going to change, so we have to change our governor.”

Beshear, a church deacon who frequently quotes Scripture to defend his policies, maintains that his aggressive approach saved lives. His restrictions were applied primarily when COVID-19 vaccines weren’t available or not yet widely distributed, though lawmakers later severely limited his ability to respond when virus cases rose. Beshear says his actions reflected guidance from the White House coronavirus task force when Republican Donald Trump was president.

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The governor vetoed an abortion bill this year that placed sweeping new restrictions on the state’s two abortion providers, regulated the supply of abortion pills and would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers overrode his veto and the measure is now being challenged in federal court. Cameron’s office is defending the law.

Democrats on Wednesday defended the governor’s leadership during the pandemic and the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes that hit parts of western Kentucky last year. They also pointed to Beshear’s stewardship of the state’s growing economy, highlighted by the announcement of new job-creating plants in the state by Ford Motor Company and others.

State Democratic Party Chairman Colmon Elridge called it “a stark contrast” to Cameron’s record, saying voters will have a clear choice if Cameron “emerges from the messy Republican primary.”

The attorney general signaled his intention to run for governor in papers filed Wednesday with the Kentucky Registrar of Election Finance.

Now rivals, Beshear and Cameron have at times followed parallel paths to power. Cameron succeeded Beshear as attorney general, with both using the state’s top law enforcement position to launch gubernatorial bids.

They have been frequent adversaries during their terms. Cameron led the legal fight against Beshear’s pandemic restrictions. Last year, Cameron won the case in the Kentucky Supreme Court, paving the way for new laws enacted by the Republican legislature to limit the governor’s emergency powers.

Cameron polished his anti-abortion credentials in a high-profile abortion case. The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the attorney general could continue to defend a restriction on abortion rights that had been struck down by lower courts. The underlying issue in the case was a blocked state law that abortion rights advocates say would have effectively banned a standard method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy.

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Cameron drew national scrutiny for his handling of the investigation into Taylor’s shooting death, a botched late-night drug search of his apartment in which no drugs were found. His death and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests for racial justice.

During a 2020 news conference to announce the grand jury’s findings, Cameron said jurors “agreed” that the manslaughter charges were not warranted against the officers, because they were shot. That prompted three jurors to come forward and dispute Cameron’s account, arguing that Cameron’s staff limited their scope and did not give them a chance to consider manslaughter charges against police in Taylor’s death. Last year, in an interview with the AP, Cameron said those jurors can speak for themselves, but he said the grand jury “finally” decided the charges in the case.

Although protesters had gathered outside Cameron’s home to demand justice for Taylor, no officers were ever charged for their role in her death.

Cameron, who landed a prime-time slot to speak at the 2020 Republican National Convention, has close ties to the Bluegrass state’s most powerful Republican, US Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, and he once served as legal counsel to the senator.

Cameron walks into what is shaping up to be a packed field of Republicans running to unseat Beshear in next year’s top-seed race. Among those already in the gubernatorial race on the GOP side are state agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles, state auditor Mike Harmon and retired attorney Eric Deters. Several other Republicans are considering gubernatorial runs. The gubernatorial jockeying could overshadow this year’s election in Kentucky.

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Recent polls show Beshear remains popular in Republican-leaning Kentucky. During his tenure, he landed the two largest economic development projects in the state, both battery plant developments.


Associated Press writers Piper Hudspeth Blackburn and Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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