Republican candidates for governor are betting they can drop Gov. Andy Beshear’s popularity in Kentucky by repeatedly labeling him a tyrant or incompetent.
The latest entrant into the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is Rep. Savannah Maddox who is hoping to make Beshear into a biblical tyrant, despite the 44-year-old being seen more like Mister Rogers than King Manasseh.
“His actions have been that of a tyrant, not a governor, and certainly not a leader,” she says on her campaign website.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles does not go as far as Maddox, but during his campaign launch last week in Georgetown the two-term state-wide office holder sought to cast Beshear as a persecutor of Christians.
“We have seen a governor send state troopers to our churches on Easter Sunday to harass Christians – violating our Constitutional rights,” Quarles said.
After three years in office, Beshear has a nearly 60 percent popularity ranking, making him one of the most beloved Democratic governors in the nation. Key in the rhetoric from Republicans surrounding Beshear’s pandemic moves aimed at protecting Kentuckians will be attempting to criticize his leadership during the pandemic.
As one Democratic consultant put it, if you are alive right now, felt protected, informed, and feel like Beshear did everything he could do to keep you and your family safe as the world faced an unknown pandemic then the counterargument is moot. Still, most races are motivated by turning positives into negatives so they will try.
There will also be an attempt to show Beshear as an incompetent leader. More establishment Republicans will take this path as they make their case for GOP control.
However, the Kentucky Democratic Party is functioning as an actual political organization again and offering a counter to the red meat on Beshear’s record.
“Andy Beshear is one of the most popular governors in the country because he works for Kentuckians, with strong leadership that is taking Kentucky from difficult years of a pandemic and devastating storms into record-breaking economic development that is creating more opportunities for our families,” the KDP chair has said as GOP contenders attack the governor.