FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed paperwork Wednesday to enter the state's 2023 governor’s race, hoping to ride his resistance to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus restrictions into the governor’s office.
Cameron, seen as a rising GOP star, made history in 2019 as the first African American to serve as the state’s attorney general. Now he’s trying to blaze another trail in his bid for governor.
The attorney general last year led the legal fight against pandemic-related restrictions Beshear imposed to try to stem the spread of the virus. Cameron won the case in the Kentucky Supreme Court, which cleared the way for new laws enacted by the GOP-run state legislature to rein in the governor’s emergency powers. The governor maintains that his actions saved lives.
During his tenure as attorney general, Cameron also came under close national scrutiny for his handling of an investigation into the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by police in 2020. Her death and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide racial justice protests.
Cameron publicly said the decision not to charge any police officers with Taylor’s death was “ultimately” in the grand jury’s hands. But three jurors on the panel later said Cameron’s team limited their scope and misled them about what charges they were allowed to consider.
Cameron has close ties to the Bluegrass State's most powerful Republican — U.S. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell — having formerly served as the senator’s legal counsel.
The attorney general signaled his bid for governor in paperwork filed Wednesday — a statement of spending intent form with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, Cameron was not immediately available for comments Wednesday at his statehouse office.
Cameron enters what could become a crowded field of Republicans running to unseat Beshear in next year's top-of-the-ticket race. Already in the governor's race on the GOP side are state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, state Auditor Mike Harmon and retired attorney Eric Deters. Several other Republicans are considering bids for governor.
Recent polling shows Beshear remains popular in Republican-trending Kentucky. He touts his stewardship of Kentucky's economy, which includes landing the state’s two largest-ever economic development projects — both battery projects. Beshear also has won widespread praise for overseeing the state's response to devastating tornadoes that tore through parts of western Kentucky late last year.
Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press