Beshear defeats Cameron to win second term

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won reelection as Kentucky’s Chief Executive on Tuesday, defeating Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron by a wider margin than when he stopped Matt Bevin’s quest for a second term in 2019.

The win makes him only the third governor in Kentucky history to win two consecutive terms. The others were Paul Patton, who was in office 1995-2003, and his father, Steve Beshear, who served from 2007 to 2015.

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“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice,” Beshear said during his victory speech, “A choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family. A choice to reject Team R or Team D, and to state clearly that we are one Team Kentucky.”

He said this was a victory that sends a loud and clear message: “A message that candidates should run for something, and not against someone. That a candidate should show vision, and not sew division. And a clear statement that anger politics should end right here and right now.”

In addition to the best two years for economic development, Beshear touted some of his accomplishments that will carry over to the next four years. “We’re building the Brent Spence companion bridge without tolls, we’re four-laning the entire Mountain Parkway, and we’re pushing I-69 forward so fast that Indiana is scrambling to catch up.”

Beshear won reelection with 53 percent of the vote, earning 693,370 votes. His challenger finished with 626,196.

Locally, Cameron easily carried Lincoln County with 4,252 votes (62 percent) to 2,586 (38 percent) for Beshear.

For the next four years, Beshear said, “We have an opportunity to come further together. This is our chance to build that Commonwealth we have always dreamed of. To stop the fighting, to push away the division, to recognize that we have more that unites us, than can ever pull us apart; and that the opportunity, right in front of us, is more promising than at any time in our lifetimes.”

Beshear had 53% of the votes when Cameron conceded at 9:15 p.m.

“We all want the same thing for our future generations,” Cameron said. “We want a better commonwealth, one in which it can ultimately be a shining city on a hill, a model, an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

In his victory remarks, Beshear noted Kentuckians have come together to face hard times, but said he was looking forward to the state’s future. He called for funding educator raises and universal pre-kindergarten, as well as signaling optimism for the state’s economic development. He did not speak to reporters at the end of the night, but he and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman will have a press conference Wednesday morning in Frankfort.

Beshear, 45, ran a campaign highlighting his leadership through difficult times — devastating floods in Eastern Kentucky and tornadoes in Western Kentucky, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, during which he held daily press conferences speaking to Kentuckians virtually in their homes. The governor also consistently expressed optimism about Kentucky’s future, pointing to economic growth during his administration, new businesses opening and infrastructure projects in progress, such as the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky.

The Democrat’s win sets the stage for his strained relationship with the Republican-controlled General Assembly in Frankfort to continue, ahead of a state budget session to begin in January. On the campaign trail, GOP lawmakers and Cameron often criticized the governor for vetoing their legislation, though Republicans have overridden his vetoes. Beshear often emphasizes bipartisanship as a response, noting he has frequently signed lawmakers’ legislation.

The win also shows that Kentuckians are not entirely red at the state level, as Democrats have continued to hold the state’s highest office. Kentucky voters twice overwhelmingly voted for Republican Donald Trump for president. Trump endorsed Cameron and held a “tele-rally” conference call with Cameron on Monday night.

The gubernatorial election was an expensive race. Together, the two campaigns and outside groups spent $65 million to sway voters.