2023 Preview: Beshear Veto Showcases GOP Ready to Pounce on Social Issues

With the stroke of his veto pen Gov. Andy Beshear has wandered into a hot-button social issue important to conservative voters, and some in his liberal base.

On Wednesday, Beshear, D-Kentucky, vetoed Senate Bill 83 the “Save Women’s Sports Act” which directs the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control to pass and enact regulations banning those identified as males on their birth certificates from participating in female sports teams.

The veto drew a swift rebuke from several potential Republican candidates for governor next year. The likely candidates are tuned in to the GOP electorate who are currently primarily motivated by social issues.

Term-limited Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles’ office issued a statement decrying the vetoed bill, which has nothing to do with agriculture.

“Governor Andrew Beshear’s veto of a bipartisan bill disrupts athletic competition and opens the door for boys to play in girls’ sports,” Quarles said in a statement. “Decades of hard work to achieve equality in girls’ sports is now at risk due to Governor Beshear’s extreme view that erases all of the achievements female athletes have earned.”

Quarles was not the only one frustrated with the veto, former UN Ambassador, and potential gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft took to her social media feed to call out Beshear for the veto. Craft, who often has one foot in national and international politics and Kentucky issues, nationalized the veto in her post.

“We need a governor who realizes that it’s patently unfair to let biological males compete against #Kentucky’s next generation of female stars. Beshear is no different than Biden and the rest,” she wrote.

State Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, is also contemplating a run, and he too found Beshear’s veto frustrating.

“The woke movement is alive & well in the KY Governor’s mansion after today’s vetoes of SB83 & SB1,” Wise wrote on Twitter. “A Governor who thinks that decades of females fighting for sports equality & replaced by transgender competition is not tuned into the people of the Commonwealth.”

The statements show potential GOP primary candidates are on the same page as they head into the one-year mark from the 2023 race. What will likely surface, if they all enter the race with the same views is a personality contest between the candidates.

Republican supermajorities can easily reverse Beshear’s veto of the Save Women’s Sports Act when they return next week for the final two days of the 2022 General Assembly.