Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed to run for governor in 2023, shaking up the Republican race to try to unseat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
The 36-year-old has been attorney general since 2019, his first term in any elected office. He was previously a corporate attorney and general counsel for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Cameron is the third Republican to launch a 2023 gubernatorial campaign, including Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and State Auditor Mike Harmon. Former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft has also strongly hinted at a run for governor.
In a video announcing his campaign, Cameron said Beshear doesn’t reflect Kentucky’s values.
“He’s not going to change, so we have to change our governor,” Cameron said.
Republican politicians in Kentucky have rallied around opposition to Beshear, singling out his response to the coronavirus pandemic, support for abortion rights and opposition to conservative economic proposals.
But voters have generally approved of Beshear’s leadership, according to recent polling. A survey conducted last month showed Beshear with a 59% job approval rating, down only slightly from 60% in January.
Cameron has clashed with Beshear on abortion rights–criticizing the governor for declining to defend an anti-abortion law that was struck down during former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration. Cameron has also joined prominent lawsuits challenging vaccine mandates, clean air requirements and the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge issued a statement saying Cameron has a “weak record” and predicted a “messy” Republican primary.
“Andy Beshear is one of the most popular governors in the country because he works for Kentuckians, with strong leadership that is taking Kentucky from difficult years of a pandemic and devastating storms into record breaking economic development that is creating more opportunities for our families. His record is a clear contrast with Daniel Cameron, with Kentuckians less safe from predators under his failed and highly politicized term as AG,” Elridge wrote.
Cameron’s announcement has implications for other races in Kentucky. Because candidates can’t run for two offices at the same time in Kentucky, Cameron’s candidacy means there will now be an open election for attorney general.
After the news broke, Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams quickly tweeted that he is now considering a run for attorney general, saying, “GOP voters are blessed with great choices.”
Former U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman, another McConnell ally, is also rumored to be considering a run for attorney general.