Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear forms PAC to support candidates across the country

Published 4:15 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

By BRUCE SCHREINER, The Associated Press

FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who defeated Donald Trump-backed rivals twice in Republican-leaning Kentucky, announced the formation of a federal political action committee on Monday to support candidates across the country as he seeks to broaden his influence beyond the Bluegrass State.

Beshear launched a PAC called In This Together with a focus on helping elect more Democrats in swing states and Republican strongholds. The move comes barely two months since Beshear secured a second term with a convincing victory over GOP challenger and then-state Attorney General Daniel Cameron in one of the nation’s most closely watched elections of 2023.

Beshear said Monday his reelection offered a blueprint for Democrats, and that his PAC will support candidates looking to replicate those results in local, state and federal campaigns across the country.

“We are looking for good candidates that are running for the right reasons,” Beshear said in a phone interview. “That push back against and reject anger politics and that are ultimately focused on the everyday challenges that our families face – like good jobs, expansion of health care, strong public education, good infrastructure.”

Beshear’s reelection in a state that otherwise is trending heavily toward the GOP has fueled speculation about whether the 46-year-old governor might run for national office someday. The governor has committed to serving out his second four-year term, which ends in late 2027.

He sidestepped questions about any future political ambitions, saying his focus is on helping candidates focused on core issues like jobs, health care and public safety and who want to bridge political divisions.

Mark Riddle, a Democratic strategist with strong Kentucky ties, said Monday that Beshear’s reelection propelled him into the upper tier of potential presidential candidates in 2028. Forming the PAC will help him further elevate his national profile.

“His record of accomplishment, his character and the way he conducts himself as governor, I think, is something that national Democrats should keep a close eye on and get to know him,” Riddle said.

Beshear’s emphasis on electing more Democrats in swing or red states coincides with broader conversations among Democrats nationally about how the party can expand to “build a real governing majority,” Riddle said. A number of those states also play crucial roles in deciding the outcome of presidential campaigns – from the primaries to the general election, Riddle said.

Beshear, the son of former two-term Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, has repeatedly denounced the divisive nature of politics. In his recent State of the Commonwealth speech, he called for a united effort with Kentucky’s Republican lawmakers to improve public education, health care and the economy. The GOP holds supermajorities in both legislative chambers.

“This anger politics that focuses on hate and division is a real threat to our nation,” Beshear said in the interview Monday. “It’s a major concern for our society. And we’re going to support candidates that push back against it, that run strong on their values.”

Beshear’s reelection last year could serve as a model for other Democrats on how to make inroads in Republican territory. The incumbent governor withstood relentless attacks aimed at stirring up Kentuckians over transgender issues and also focused on the post-COVID inflationary surge during Democratic President Joe Biden’s term.

Beshear insulated himself from the onslaught by focusing on core pocketbook issues and his support for more exceptions to the state’s near-total abortion ban. Beshear, an abortion-rights supporter, pounded away at Cameron’s longstanding support for the state’s abortion ban even after the Republican signaled his willingness to accept exceptions for rape and incest.

Beshear was first elected governor in 2019 when he defeated Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Both Bevin and Cameron played up their support from Trump, who easily carried Kentucky in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and who remains popular with Republican voters in the state as he seeks the presidency again in 2024. Beshear previously served one term as Kentucky’s attorney general, winning the job in a year when Republicans dominated statewide races.