Aside from a few fresh jabs, the latest gubernatorial debate hit points mostly familiar to election watchers
Kentuckians heard incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear and challenger Daniel Cameron square off over issues ranging from worker’s rights to the death penalty in an hour-long debate on WDRB-TV Monday.
Both candidates used their opening statements to characterize how they see the races — with Republican Daniel Cameron calling it “crazy versus normal” and Democrat Andy Beshear labeling the campaigns “vision versus division.”
Right out of the gate, the Democrat referenced Republicans' efforts to tie him to President Joe Biden, who remains unpopular in the state, joking, "We worked real hard to get sports betting passed, so let's have some fun. I'm placing the over/under on the number of times my opponent says Joe Biden."
Viewers didn't have to wait long. In his first remarks, Cameron said, "Andy Beshear and Joe Biden will tell you that everything is good in this country, but that's certainly not the case," before launching into attacks on inflation and "the far-left indoctrinating your kids."
Candidates hammered away at familiar talking points seen and heard throughout an ad-heavy election season, with some of the sharpest disagreements arising on abortion, education, and crime.
On abortion restrictions, each was pushed on where they would draw the line. Cameron remained vague on exactly what kind of exceptions to the state’s ban he might sign, but repeated his charge that Beshear’s position is extreme.
"I've also said that if the legislature were to give me a bill with exceptions in it, I would certainly sign it, but Andy Beshear wants no limits on abortion," the Republican said.
Countering, Beshear said he has "always believed in reasonable restrictions, especially on late term abortions, and I said that from the moment I started running for attorney general over eight years ago."
On education, the contenders sparred over whether private school vouchers would hurt public education, the treatment of teachers, and whether the largest district in the state – Jefferson County – should be split up. On that question, Cameron said it shouldn’t be a rash decision but he would convene stakeholders to discuss it, while Beshear said the district should be run by officials elected at the community level.
The candidates also locked horns over public safety and crime rates, with Cameron touting his endorsement from the Kentucky FOP and downplaying raises Kentucky State Police received during Beshear’s tenure.
"Andy Beshear has basically just shared with us that he has no plan to address the increase in violent crime that he caused," the GOP nominee said. "You don't feel safer because you're not safer under this governor."
In a return volley, Beshear said, "The attorney general is the top cop and the top prosecutor in the commonwealth," prompting the one and only interruption in the debate with Cameron objecting. Beshear then finished his thought, adding, "The fact that he just tried to blame me entirely for a rise in the crime and he's the top cop shows you that he plays the blame game."
The next joint appearance for the candidates is scheduled on October 21. That’s a debate co-hosted by the League of Women Voters and WLKY of Louisville.