New Beshear ads talk natural disaster recovery, economic development

Published 8:36 am Monday, July 10, 2023

Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection campaign will soon have two new advertisements on the airwaves.

The first highlights Kathy O’Nan, mayor of Mayfield, a Western Kentucky town devastated by the December 2021 tornadoes.

O’Nan, a Democrat, says that she’s been in consistent contact with Beshear since the natural disaster, in the 30-second advertisement.

“I remember the comfort that we all gained from his strength during that time,” she says.

During the first leg of his general election campaign, Beshear has focused on his track record of showing up in tough times, from the COVID-19 pandemic to tornadoes in Western Kentucky and floods in Eastern Kentucky.

Republicans, however, have criticized Beshear for some aspects of his management of these natural disasters.

For example, one of Republican governor nominee Daniel Cameron’s primary attacks against Beshear is his decision to shut down small businesses and churches during the pandemic.

Others have questioned Beshear’s leadership after several $1,000 checks intended to aid tornado survivors in Western Kentucky were sent to people who didn’t actually need assistance, according to reporting by the Lexington Herald Leader.

The other TV advertisement centers on economic development. It includes snippets of news anchors talking about economic development projects in Kentucky, including several current and upcoming electric vehicle battery plant projects in Bowling Green and Glendale.

“Kentucky’s economy is on the move,” the narrator says. “Companies are now choosing Kentucky.”

Economic development is a centerpiece of Beshear’s early campaign events.

At a Bowling Green event, he said that despite all the challenges Kentucky has faced in the past three years, he is more optimistic about the future than ever, especially coming off “our best two years for economic development in our history.”

He said that in 2021, the administration oversaw creation of a record 18,000 new Kentucky jobs, and in 2022, 16,500 more. 2023 is set to continue that trend, he added.

“Last year we set the lowest annual unemployment rate in our history, and last month we set the lowest monthly unemployment rate ever in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Beshear said.

“We’ve created the fourth largest budget surpluses in what will be our first four years in these offices. We have our largest rainy day fund in our history, which meant last week we got the first bond rating upgrade in 13 years, meaning every teacher, every police officer, every social worker, every state employee, every city employee, your pensions are better protected than at any time in the last couple decades.”

As one of three gubernatorial races in the country this year, Kentucky is expected by many to be a marker of how the 2024 presidential election may go, and Beshear and Cameron are hitting the ground running.

According to Medium Buying, which tracks political ads, pro-Beshear groups have spent $2.12 million so far on advertisements this election cycle as of Tuesday.

This funding comes from the Beshear campaign, Democratic Governor’s Association-affiliated group Defending Bluegrass Values and pro-Beshear political action committee Preserve, Protect and Defend.

In contrast, Republican Governor’s Association-affiliated group State Solutions has spent $379,000 on anti-Beshear advertisements.

The governor’s race may be five months away, but it is heating up early. For comparison, in Beshear’s race against then Gov. Matt Bevin in 2019, his campaign only began broadcasting television ads on Aug. 6.

This year, the first one appeared May 18.

“Gov. Andy Beshear has led Kentucky through deadly natural disasters with compassion and strength and shown up to help Kentuckians rebuild,” said campaign manager Eric Hyers.

“Working hand in hand with local leaders like Mayor Kathy O’Nan, Governor Beshear has delivered for communities across Kentucky, and that’s why Kentuckians are ready to support his leadership for another four years.”