Attorney General Daniel Cameron, R-Kentucky, stunned the state’s political class late last week with an endorsement from Donald Trump, but the former president’s gubernatorial primary endorsement does not always equal victory for candidates.
Trump’s recent primary gubernatorial endorsements in Idaho, Nebraska, and Georgia have all fallen short this year.
As Stuart Rothenberg writes for Roll Call, Trump’s endorsement in gubernatorial races matters less as voters have higher expectations to know their governor, than federal elected officials who work from the nation’s capital.
“…there already are more than a few signs that Trump’s endorsements in governors’ races will be less important than in contests for Congress, and Trump losses in gubernatorial contests could make the former president look increasingly weak.”
In Kentucky, that sentiment holds true. Kentuckians want to know their governor. And in the case of former Gov Matt Bevin, not even a last-minute Trump endorsement could save him in 2019 as the incumbent struggled with what Kentuckians knew of him.
The elephant in the room is when form UN Ambassador Kelly Craft enters the race, as money could be a great equalizer. Craft is married to the third-largest coal producer in the eastern U.S., and they have millions ready to dump into the contest. She told the Associated Press to “stay tuned” as she continues towards the race still 11 months away.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is also not concerned about the Trump endorsement as he continues to be endorsed by dozens of elected officials in Kentucky, and is focused on his statewide organization.
Three years into his term as Kentucky’s Attorney General, Cameron has crossed against his promise to voters and his own talking point that “AG should not stand for aspiring governor.”
Cameron has been known nationally since speaking at the RNC in 2020 and after his handling of the Breonna Taylor case – which could come into play in this election.
Continuing to nationalize the governor’s race and playing towards ideology over merit could cost Cameron and Trump as voters still care about the quality of candidates.