Kentucky governor's race: Abortion laws and Biden's unpopularity

(NewsNation) —  Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear is running for a second term against Republican candidate and state’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron, highlighting if abortion restrictions in the state will affect the political landscape.

This race will also demonstrate public sentiment toward a Democratic governor running in a Republican state while advancing the agenda of President Joe Biden, who is struggling in the latest opinion polling. 

Beshear is campaigning on abortion rights, economy, and infrastructure while distancing himself from Biden.

After the June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, Kentucky prohibited most abortions. And last November, voters rejected an attempt to add an abortion prohibition to the state’s constitution.

Beshear criticized Cameron for his anti-abortion position and condemned Kentucky Republicans for passing the abortion ban. He has been running ads featuring a woman who shares her story of being sexually assaulted by her stepfather when she was 12 years old.

The top topics in Camoron’s TV ads are crime, opposition to Biden, Cameron’s endorsement from former President Donald Trump, opposition to LGBTQ rights, and jobs. 

Kentucky’s track record of electing governors has predicted the outcome of presidential elections a year later. 

This race is one of the two Democratic-held governorships up for election in 2023, even though Trump won the state in the 2020 presidential election. 

Beshear was elected in 2019 after defeating the incumbent Republican, Matt Bevin, who faced criticism for certain decisions during his tenure. 

Both candidates have previously served as the state’s Attorney General. Beshear held the position from 2016 to 2019, followed by Cameron. 

Cameron gained national recognition, specifically for his role in handling the Breonna Taylor case in 2020. He also made a speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention and was considered a potential nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court by Trump in Sept. 2020. 

If Cameron wins, he will become Kentucky’s first Black American governor. 

Kentucky’s GOP strategist Scott Jennings believes that Cameron will try to nationalize the race by highlighting Beshear’s endorsement of Biden while Cameron has not, as the average Kentuckian is displeased with the state’s economy. 

The election will take place on November 7, 2023, to choose the governor and lieutenant governor of Kentucky. The winner will take office on December 12, 2023. 

Since Beshear won the governor’s race in 2019, the number of registered Democrats in Kentucky has decreased while the number of Republicans has increased. 

Support between Beshear and Cameron is tied, according to a poll released Friday. 

An Emerson College Polling survey found Beshear and Cameron tied at 47 percent, with 4 percent of respondents saying they were undecided and 2 percent saying someone else.   

The poll noted that the match-up shifts to Cameron receiving 49 percent and Beshear receiving 48 percent when undecided voters are asked whom they’re leaning toward.  

Beshear has been buoyed by unusually strong approval ratings for a red-state Democrat, with a Morning Consult poll released this week showing him at 60 percent, and he has sought to put Cameron on defense on the issue of abortion.   

A recent Morning Consult poll found that 68% of Kentuckians disapproved of Biden, while 60% – including 43% of Republicans – approved of Beshear. 

NewsNation’s The Hill contributed to this report.

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