Key McConnell aide joining Kentucky GOP gubernatorial campaign in senior management role
Jun 6, 2023, 10:19 AM | Updated: 10:30 am
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A top aide to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has joined Daniel Cameron’s gubernatorial campaign in Kentucky, as the GOP nominee adds another political heavy hitter to his team in trying to defeat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in one of the nation’s most closely watched races.
Terry Carmack, the senator’s chief of staff, will assume a senior management role in Cameron’s campaign, said Sean Southard, a state Republican Party spokesman.
The key personnel move this week comes amid a fast-developing campaign, with both candidates on the campaign trail and TV ads already on the air — five months ahead of a general election contest that could send loud signals about the mood of the electorate ahead of next year’s campaigns for the presidency and control of Congress.
Beshear, who is seeking reelection to a second term, planned to tout his record on law enforcement issues at a campaign event later Tuesday. Cameron, the state attorney general, has blamed Beshear for what he has said was an increase in crime in the Bluegrass State.
Cameron’s campaign said the addition of Carmack reflects an “all-hands-on-deck” approach by a unified GOP in support of his bid to unseat Beshear.
Cameron won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement early in the primary campaign and he’s a McConnell protege, having previously worked as the senator’s legal counsel. Cameron has shown an ability to bridge an ever-expanding gulf between the ex-president and the Senate GOP leader.
“Daniel Cameron enjoys support from all wings of the Republican Party, from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell,” Southard said in a statement.
Carmack said Republicans are “excited to make history” by electing Cameron as governor. Cameron would become Kentucky’s first Black governor if elected.
The Democratic Governors Association, meanwhile, had a different characterization of Carmack’s role.
“Daniel Cameron’s campaign has a new babysitter on loan from Mitch McConnell, who is once again trying to hand Daniel a political office,” said DGA Communications Director Sam Newton.
Carmack has extensive political experience at the state and national levels. He served previously as state party chairman in Kentucky, chief of staff to members of Congress and as political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
His addition to the Cameron campaign was described as a “terrific move” by Scott Jennings, a Kentucky-based Republican political commentator and former adviser to President George W. Bush.
“Terry is one of the most experienced guys in Kentucky politics,” said Jennings, who has close ties to McConnell. “We are in for a close, hard-fought race and you won’t find a smarter, savvier operator than Carmack. He knows the state like the back of his hand.”
Carmack is taking a leave of absence and will return to McConnell’s staff after the November election. Gus Herbert will maintain his role as Cameron’s campaign manager. Cameron won last month’s GOP primary by a wide margin against a crowded field of competitors.