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GOP spirits high in Kentucky’s heated governor’s race

America is now less than one year out from its next Presidential election.

On November 5, 2024, American voters will have our say and our nation will learn who we voters have elected to lead our country for the next 4 years.

Today, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, voters will choose either Democrat incumbent Andy Beshear or Republican nominee Daniel Cameron as their Governor for the next four years. Kentucky is a State with a long tradition of electing Democrat governors. In fact, since WWII ended, Democrats have won 16 of the 19 Gubernatorial elections held.

If Republican challenger Cameron wins tomorrow, not only will his election buck a strong trend in modern history but also his election will make history in Kentucky. Cameron, already the State’s first African American nominee for Governor, believes he can ride a massive wave of late momentum into the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort; if he’s able to do so, he will become the State’s first African American Governor.

What, you might ask, does tomorrow’s Kentucky Gubernatorial election have to do with next November’s Presidential election?

Well, allow me to answer this important question as I enjoy a tasty drink of Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond. Discussing Kentucky politics just seems natural while enjoying the State’s most renowned export.

Today’s Gubernatorial results in Kentucky will become the focus of the national talking points of the next 90 days whichever party prevails.

If incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear — son of two-term Governor Steve Beshear — wins re-election Democrats in a state that Trump carried by a 62-36 margin, Democrats will declare his election as a watershed moment for democrats everywhere. They’ll portray a Beshear election as proof of a lack of a Trump/GOP mandate from voters and they will use it to suggest their own mandate in next year’s national elections.

If challenger Daniel Cameron (the current Kentucky Attorney General) prevails tonight, the GOP will hail his election as having historical significance and as a harbinger of GOP success in next year’s elections.

Republicans will claim a Cameron win, unthinkable a month ago as Beshear held a 16-point lead, as proof of how toxic the Joe Biden brand and Bidenomics have become. With a Kentucky win tomorrow, the GOP will forecast sweeps across the nation in House and Senate races and in the race for the White House.

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s election, the Biden toxicity appears to be real.

Normally, one would expect an incumbent Governor to welcome the campaign assistance from the President when they represent the same political party. That has not been the case in Kentucky as the Beshear camp has wisely kept Biden away from Kentucky during this election.

Conversely, former President Trump has been active in supporting the Republican AG Daniel Cameron in his bid for the Governor’s mansion. Just this past weekend, the Commonwealth got blanketed with a Trump message endorsing Cameron, blasting Beshear for supporting Biden and urging voters to go to the polls and vote for Cameron.

Will Trump’s late endorsement of Cameron be enough? Will Beshear’s strategy to keep Biden out of Kentucky work for him?

A just completed poll of 1000 likely voters, conducted by Emerson College Polling from October 30 through November 2, show the race as a 47-47 tie as we come down the homestretch and toward tomorrow’s finish line. In early October, this same polling concern had Beshear lead at +16.

As I evaluate the shifts in the public’s mood on this race from the earlier poll to this most recent one, a couple of things jumped off the page at me: Undecideds have moved largely toward Cameron and identified supporters of Trump have swung hard in Cameron’s direction. A third set of data points that look important to me is Cameron holds a slight lead among women voters.

I have concluded that without any lift expected from the Biden White House, with the strong momentum in the last 4 weeks, with the move of ‘undecideds’ towards Cameron and with his lead among women voters, Daniel Cameron will be elected tomorrow as Kentucky’s 4th GOP Governor in 80 years and its first ever African American Governor.

How does Kentucky influence the rest of the Nation?

Four years ago, Andy Beshear used his family name and his credentials to upset a Republican incumbent. Upon his win, Democrats claimed the Beshear election as proof a good Democrat candidate could win (even in a Southern state) with their national message.

Fast forward four years and the fact that — even if he pulls out a win tomorrow — the Beshear campaign determined it had to keep Biden away from Kentucky means they recognized Biden and his related baggage was detrimental to their electoral aspirations.

More and more Democrat candidates in competitive states, will, like Beshear, feel compelled to hide from the Biden record of failed foreign policies, corruption allegations, failed economic policies resulting in record inflation rates and radical, extreme leftist influences on the Biden White House.

Democratic candidates in competitive races will run from the White House as most of the Country continues to feel the Nation is severely on ‘the wrong track’.

How bad is the news one year out for the Biden team?

Earlier this morning, according to an article published in USA TODAY, former Obama advisor David Axelrod suggested, “President Joe Biden may want to reconsider his reelection bid”. Axelrod went on to state that “if he (Biden) continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?”

Clearly, Axelrod is saying that Biden can become the Democrat nominee, but he can’t win next November.

Axelrod suggests Biden needs to deny his own interests and step aside for the good of the Country. It has taken a long time in getting here but finally David Axelrod and I have reached a point of agreement; neither one of us believes it’s good for the Country for Joe Biden to seek four more years in the White House.

That might be justification enough for another pour of Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond.

If Biden and his economic performance are so toxic that they can make a 16-point lead in Kentucky for an incumbent democrat evaporate in 4 weeks, can democrats really expect to hold any marginal seat in next year’s election cycle?

We’ll know for certain in less than a year’s time. Today, however, it appears the 2024 national elections are there for the Republicans to take.

Let me know your thoughts about next year’s elections. Also, let me know your thoughts about Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond. Cheers!

Steve French is a former member of the Alabama State Senate, representing the 15th District from 1998-2010. 

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