Democrat Andy Beshear delivered the first piece of good news for his party on election night 2023 as he was swept back into office by voters in a state long considered a Republican stronghold.
Mr Beshear campaigned on his opponent’s support for abortion restrictions, a key theme that played out in many races on Tuesday evening, as well as on his own record as governor. The Democrat has enjoyed a healthy state economy boosted by private investments under his term in office, which also saw him earn credit for his response to several natural disasters in the state.
He was leading his opponent, Daniel Cameron, by four percentage points with more than three quarters of the vote counted when the race was called just before 9pm est.
Mr Beshear delivered a victory speech to his cheering supporters in Louisville after the results came in.
“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice. A choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family,” said the governor.
Name-dropping one of his high-profile supporters, he added that voters had also chosen “Jack Harlow over Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”
Mr Beshear won praise from progressives for vetoing anti-transgender legislation authored by Republicans in the state — though the GOP supermajority in the legislature forced it into law anyway. He also put Republicans on the defensive over reproductive freedom, characterising a state ban that did not provide an exception for rape as giving rapists more power than their victims.
On Tuesday, after his victory was certain, he rejected the tendency of many in his party to focus on demonising their opponents while not embracing popular platforms.
“It was a victory that sends a loud, clear message. A message that candidates should run for something and not against someone. That a candidate should show vision and not sow division. And a clear statement that anger politics should end right here and right now.”
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