Andy Beshear Seeks To Follow Father’s Footsteps, Will Run For Governor

0
160
Attorney General Andy Beshear greets friends at Monday's announcement that he is running for governor of Kentucky in 2019. (Kentucky Today/Robin Cornetet)

By TOM LATEK and ROBIN CORNETET, Kentucky Today

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is seeking to follow in his father’s footsteps, announcing Monday that he intends to seek his party’s nomination to run for governor in Kentucky.

 

“We need a new generation of leadership willing to listen and work with people, not bully them and say it’s my way or the highway,” Beshear said.

Beshear has tapped Jacqueline Coleman, an assistant principal at Nelson County High School and founder of the education nonprofit Lead Kentucky, as his running mate. The two began crisscrossing the state on Monday for rallies in seven cities, the first of which was held in Louisville.

They had other stops planned in Lexington, Pikeville, Ashland, Owensboro, Paducah and Bowling Green.

By announcing early, Beshear and Coleman are apparently hoping to wave off a potentially large field of Democratic contenders, including House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Beshear, elected attorney general in 2015, has spent much of the past 2 ½ years haranguing the man he wants to replace, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Beshear has filed multiple lawsuits against Bevin in Kentucky courts and has been his chief critic in the court of public opinion.

Beshear is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, who also once served as attorney general. Before being elected to office, Andy Beshear worked at the Louisville law firm of Stites & Harbison where he specialized in consumer and nonprofit law.

Andy Beshear narrowly defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield, a state lawmaker from Hopkinsville, to win the race for attorney general.

The attorney general’s office, under Andy Beshear, has had its share of controversy. His top deputy, Tim Longmeyer, is serving 70 months in prison after pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge after admitting to receiving $200,000 in kickbacks while serving as secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet.

Prosecutors said Longmeyer directed some of the money in the kickback scheme to Andy Beshear’s campaign for attorney general. Andy Beshear has said he plans to donate the money to the political watchdog group Common Cause after the Kentucky Registry of Election Finances completes an audit of his campaign account.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, rich or poor, your kids go to the same public school,” Beshear said, outlining that public education is a priority.  “We will work to fund every public school and every public university, to give real and true opportunity to every Kentucky child.”

Coleman said as a public school teacher and basketball coach, she has spent her personal and professional career serving her community through the public school system.

“Our teachers, our students and our rural communities are hurting,” she said.  “Today, Andy has made his commitment to them clear, by choosing me, a proud Kentucky teacher as his running mate for lieutenant governor.”

The war on opioids is another area where Beshear said his focus will remain as governor.

“We will reduce the rate of new addiction, provide more dollars for treatment and will continue to hold those opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable,” he said. “We will force them to be a part of the solution.”

Beshear also promised “to release my tax returns.”

Tres Watson, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, responded to Andy Beshear’s announcement by criticizing his tenure as attorney general.

 

“I’m glad Andy Beshear has announced his candidacy so early,” Watson said. “It will allow us to remind Kentuckians voting both this fall and next of the sort of corrupt, pay-to-play, scandal ridden government they can expect if Democrats are returned to power in Frankfort.”