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Cameron’s entry into the GOP race for governor is already shuffling the political deck in Frankfort

Daniel Cameron
Susan Walsh/AP
/
AP
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is vowing to defend "Kentucky values" as he steps foot into an increasingly busy GOP gubernatorial primary.

After months of shying away from questions about his political prospects, Cameron made it official Wednesday, filing paperwork to enter the GOP race for governor. The Mitch McConnell protégé has long been considered a potential candidate for the top job, throwing out hints like this one during his 2021 speech at Fancy Farm.

"We're going to need a governor who's gonna show up for West Kentucky and who cares about every part of the state, and come November 2023, with your help, we'll have that governor," the rising star told the crowd.

Cameron is the third major Republican candidate to jump into the race, following state agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles and auditor Mike Harmon. It’s a bench that could become crowded as Republicans look to oust Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who won by a slim margin in 2019.

Already showing up in Cameron’s campaign messaging is his successful court challenge, reining in Beshear’s use of emergency powers amid the pandemic.

“If you attend church or own a small business, you should know your Governor won’t target you and shut you down. You should expect a Governor who will stand up for life," Cameron said in his campaign announcement. "And if you’re in law enforcement you deserve a Governor who won’t abandon you for political gain. As your Attorney General I’ve proven that I will always defend Kentucky’s values.”

The move drew an immediate response from Kentucky Democratic Party head Colmon Elridge, who wrote that Beshear's record is a "clear contrast with Daniel Cameron, with Kentuckians less safe from predators under his failed and highly politicized term as AG. With Daniel Cameron's weak record of protecting Kentucky children, seniors and survivors and him politicizing his office, Kentucky voters will have a clear choice next November if he emerges from the messy Republican primary."

Cameron’s gubernatorial run triggered another announcement Wednesday from fellow Republican, Secretary of State Michael Adams, who said he’ll now consider running for the attorney general post.