Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron won the Republican gubernatorial primary election Tuesday night, setting up a challenge against Democratic Governor Andy Beshear in November.
Cameron, who received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, defeated GOP challengers, including former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, to face off against Beshear. He is seen as a rising star in GOP politics and made history as the first Black candidate to become a major party’s nominee in a Kentucky gubernatorial race, according to the Associated Press.
Despite Kentucky’s conservative lean, the governor’s race is widely expected to be competitive in November, with both Cameron and Beshear having a shot at victory. Beshear is a popular governor who narrowly defeated former Governor Matt Bevin in 2019, winning by less than half a percentage point.
While the race is competitive, early polling suggests Beshear may have a slight lead against his GOP opponent.
What Polls Say About Cameron’s Chances of Victory
A Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy survey found Beshear leading by nine percentage points, with 49 percent of respondents saying they planned to vote for the incumbent. Forty percent said they planned to back Cameron.
However, the poll pointed to Cameron as the Republican with the greatest chance of taking down Beshear in the general election.
The governor led Quarles by 17 points and Craft by 25 points in a hypothetical matchup, according to the poll, which surveyed 625 registered voters from January 18 to 23 and had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Newsweek has reached out via email to Cameron’s campaign for comment.
Beshear Is Among the Most Popular U.S. Governors
Meanwhile, Beshear remains one of the most popular governors across the United States. A Morning Consult poll, conducted from October 1 to December 31, 2022, found that 60 percent of Kentucky voters approve of Beshear, while only 34 percent said they disapproved, making him the most popular Democratic governor in the country.
Although Beshear remains popular, Kentucky is a deeply conservative state that typically backs Republicans. During the 2020 presidential race, Trump defeated President Joe Biden in the state by nearly 26 points—meaning Beshear will need to win some Republican votes for a November victory.
The Cook Political Report, an organization that monitors U.S. elections, rates the Kentucky gubernatorial race as “lean democratic.” Races with this rating are “considered competitive races, but one party has an advantage.”
Cameron notably rose to national prominence following the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police in 2020, which sparked nationwide protests as the country grappled with race relations that summer. Cameron’s handling of the case came under scrutiny over his recommendations of charges to a grand jury.
He also received early support from Trump, who remains popular in the GOP-leaning state. The former president endorsed Cameron’s campaign in June, praising the Republican as “absolutely outstanding in every way”
Prior to the 2019 election, Beshear served as Kentucky’s attorney general from 2016 to 2019 and was succeeded by Cameron. Beshear is also the son of former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who served from 2007 to 2015.