Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) won reelection to a second term, defeating state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), the Associated Press projected Tuesday night, in a state President Donald Trump handily won in 2020.
In his victory speech, Beshear sought to position himself as a man of action instead of highlighting his party affiliation.
“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice. A choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family,” Beshear said, adding that his victory “sends a loud, clear message — a message that candidates should run for something and not against someone.”
Beshear’s first gubernatorial term — which he won by less than a percentage point in 2019 — included battling the Republican-controlled legislature over pandemic safety policies, responding to deadly storms and earlier this year announcing the death of friends in a mass killing in Louisville.
Beshear, 45, was elected governor after serving a term as the state’s attorney general. His father, Steve Beshear, is a former two-term governor. This year, the younger Beshear outraised and outspent his Republican challenger for governor.
His opponent, Cameron — a protégé of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — relentlessly tied Beshear to President Biden, who is unpopular in the state, and played up his own support from Trump.
Beshear distanced himself from Biden while touting economic development programs in a state that received funding from Biden’s legislation — though he has highlighted projects funded by that legislation, such as the rebuilding of the Brent Spence Bridge that crosses the Ohio River between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati.
Biden spoke with Beshear on Tuesday night, congratulating him on his reelection win, according to the White House.
Beshear’s campaign highlighted his opposition to Kentucky’s new abortion restrictions, which automatically went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade. Beshear supports LGBTQ+ rights and is a booster of labor unions.
At times, however, he has tacked to the right. Beshear rarely mentions climate change and recently allowed a bill to become law that would make it more difficult to shut down retired coal plants.
“There’s a comfort level and a familiarity with the name,” said Tres Watson, a GOP consultant and former spokesman for the Kentucky Republican Party. “Once that name Beshear is removed from the ballot, it’s going to be a Republican governorship for the foreseeable future.”
The older Beshear — who was first elected to statewide office in 1979, and served two terms as governor from 2007 to 2015 — appeared alongside his son throughout campaign events, introducing him onstage and even joining him in song at a stop in Bardstown, Ky., where he sang along briefly to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as the younger Beshear worked his way through the crowd to thank people for coming.
But supporters say Andy Beshear’s success can’t be credited only to his family name, citing his work steering the state through crises including the coronavirus pandemic, deadly flooding and catastrophic tornadoes. His focus on economic development also helped him win approval from many independents and Republicans, supporters say.
Beshear has a bachelor’s degree in political science and anthropology from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and a law degree from the University of Virginia, according to his website.
He and his wife, Britainy, have two children. The couple serve as deacons at the Beargrass Christian Church.