Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has won reelection
Updated November 7, 2023 at 10:59 PM ET
Kentucky voters have reelected Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, according to the Associated Press.
Beshear beat Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
"Tonight, Kentucky made a choice," Beshear told voters in his victory speech. "A choice not to move to the right or to the left but to move forward for every single family."
The contest had been closely followed, as Beshear fought to hold onto the governorship in the deep red state against Cameron. Issues like abortion access, the state of the economy and culture war topics dominated the race.
Cameron tried to use his endorsement from former President Donald Trump and Kentuckians' high disapproval of President Biden to propel him across the finish line.
If elected, Cameron would've been Kentucky's first Black governor and the first Black Republican governor in the country since Reconstruction.
Beshear's unique political brand
Despite being a blue dot in a very red state government, Beshear's popularity has remained high. A recent Morning Consult poll found 43% of Kentucky Republicans approve of Beshear.
Beshear, 45, has been able to create a unique brand for himself. Even before he first ran for office in 2015, his family name was familiar to many Kentuckians. His father, Steve Beshear, has been involved in state politics since 1974 and served as governor from 2007 to 2015.
Andy Beshear received attention and praise from voters for his leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic, deadly tornadoes, record flooding and ice storms.
Beshear, who won the governor's race in 2019, made increasing abortion access a focal point of his campaign, an unexpected move for a Democrat in the socially conservative state.
But Kentucky voters have already shown a willingness to vote against anti-abortion-rights measures. Last year, Kentuckians rejected adding language to the state constitution that would make it harder to challenge abortion restrictions.
Abortion has proved a winning issue for Democrats since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. Beshear specifically focused on adding exceptions for rape and incest to Kentucky's law, which currently only allows abortion if the mother is at immediate risk of death or permanent injury.
Jaime Harrison, who chairs the DNC, called the election result a "major blow to the MAGA agenda and awful news to Republicans running in 2024."
"As we've seen time and again following the overturning of Roe v. Wade – no matter how red the state – voters across the political spectrum oppose GOP attempts to rip away their freedom," he said in a statement.
This year's gubernatorial race has also been one of the most expensive in state history. The two candidates and their supporting political action committees spent more than 59 million dollars since the primary, double the amount that was spent in the previous gubernatorial race.
Kentucky voters have a habit of gauging the national mood. The winning parties of the state's last six gubernatorial elections have matched the presidential election results a year later.
Beshear's win could signal hope for the beleaguered party, which once maintained its own steadfast control of the state.
This coverage comes to us from Kentucky Public Radio, a four-station collaborative of Louisville Public Media, WKU Public Radio, WKMS and WEKU. For more of their coverage from across Kentucky, click here.
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