Kentucky Politics

A little more than two months after Kentucky voters weighed in on who they want to govern them for the next four years, the state’s new batch of constitutional officers were sworn in Monday morning.

Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman were inaugurated in December but the constitution requires the five other officials who run the state’s executive branch to take office a month later. Those include the attorney general, secretary of state and agriculture commissioner.

The new class of constitutional officers are all Republicans except for Beshear, who introduced the group saying that they are “all on the same team” despite partisan differences.

“Kentuckians made it clear that they are tired of the bitterness and divisiveness that we have seen in Frankfort. They want us to work together to move this state forward,” Beshear said.

Beshear defeated incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin by just over 5,000 votes, the narrowest margin of all the races on Election Day.

The officers sworn in on Monday included three incumbents who won reelection — Auditor Mike Harmon, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Treasurer Allison Ball.

The group also included two people who have never held public office before: Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Secretary of State Michael Adams.

Cameron took his official oath of office shortly after midnight during a ceremony on the University of Louisville campus that featured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Cameron is the first African American attorney general in state history and the first elected to statewide office on his own ticket.

“I recognize the significance of this moment, but what is more important to me is that I hope this moment propels men and women who look like me to answer the call of public service regardless of political affiliation,” Cameron said on Monday.

This was the second time Cameron took the oath of office. Last month he was sworn in after Beshear, the last attorney general, appointed him to lead the office he vacated by becoming governor.

Adams, Kentucky’s new secretary of state, said that he would lead his office with “malice toward none and charity for all.”

“Our politics does not define our humanity. We are a commonwealth, represented on our state flag by people of different backgrounds, different views, different interests shaking hands and working together with mutual trust,” Adams said.

The ceremony came a day before Kentucky’s legislative session begins, a 60 working-day period when lawmakers propose new laws and hammer out a new two-year budget.

With a Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature, this year will be the first time since 1971 that the legislature is fully controlled by a party different from the governor’s.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.