GOP nominee for Kentucky governor separates himself from ex-governor who feuded with educators

Aug 1, 2023, 12:42 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republican gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron is looking to separate himself from the last GOP governor, apologizing for former Gov. Matt Bevin’s feud with educators, in an effort to reclaim lost territory with teachers — whose voting clout helped vault the incumbent Democratic governor into office.

Speaking to a group of school administrators last week, Cameron acknowledged the lingering political damage caused by the rift between Bevin and some prominent education groups. Cameron said he came before the local school leaders “in a spirit of humility,” conceding that “some of you may have misgivings about any Republican nominee for governor.”

“I also want to say I’m sorry,” Cameron added. “Sorry if me or anyone in my party has ever given you the impression that we don’t appreciate you or that we don’t respect you. Let me assure you that the Republican Party in this state under my leadership will show that we do — not only in word but in deed.”

Cameron didn’t mention Bevin by name, but his remarks clearly were aimed at healing wounds from when the pugnacious ex-governor ripped into teachers during a policy fight over pensions that turned personal. It underscored a political reality: Bevin’s checkered legacy remains an issue in this year’s gubernatorial showdown between Cameron and Beshear, who is seeking a second term.

In 2019, Beshear benefited from Bevin’s dispute with teachers as he narrowly defeated the GOP incumbent in the deep-red state.

Bevin lashed out at teacher rallies opposing his pension plan that shut down schools. In one instance, Bevin connected a girl’s shooting with a school closing caused by teachers who called in sick to protest. Another time, he asserted that children were sexually assaulted or ingested poison somewhere in Kentucky because teachers were protesting at the statehouse.

Beshear has made support for public education a cornerstone of his term and has pledged to keep pushing for higher teacher pay and universal access to early childhood education if he wins reelection. Republicans in control of the legislature have increased spending on public education, but not at the levels sought by the governor.

Meanwhile, Beshear’s campaign and his allies are trying to connect Cameron to Bevin on multiple fronts. They say Cameron, the state’s attorney general, failed to hold Bevin accountable for issuing hundreds of pardons and commutations before leaving office. They point to policy positions shared by Cameron and Bevin, including requiring some able-bodied adults to work in exchange for health coverage through Medicaid.

Beshear’s campaign, in a new ad debuting this week, revisits the tumultuous period of mass teacher rallies against the Bevin-backed plan to move new teacher hires into a hybrid pension plan. The pension legislation was struck down by the state Supreme Court on procedural grounds. Democrats note that Cameron’s running mate, state legislator Robby Mills, supported the measure.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Beshear’s running mate, is herself an educator. Coleman has credited support from teachers as a crucial factor in Beshear’s 2019 victory and predicted teachers are “going to show up even more” for the Democratic slate in November.

The Beshear ad slams Cameron for supporting a measure to award tax credits for donations supporting private school tuition. That legislation also was invalidated by the state Supreme Court. Opponents said it would have diverted money from public schools. Supporters said it would have provided opportunities for parents who want new schooling options for their children but can’t afford them.

“Daniel Cameron’s policies would undermine our teachers, our parents and our public schools,” Beshear says in the ad.

Cameron blames Beshear for pandemic-related school shutdowns linked to students’ learning loss — reflected in disappointing statewide test scores. He said Beshear’s strained relationship with the GOP-dominated legislature hasn’t helped the education system.

Cameron’s speech was light on policy specifics, signaling he plans to unveil his education plan in the coming weeks. He touched on broad themes, including efforts to recruit and retain teachers while skipping over the school choice issue.

“We must empower local districts to make more decisions about how best to educate our students,” Cameron said. “We must refocus the Kentucky Department of Education on its mission — preparing our young people to become capable citizens of their community. And we must surge resources to close the pandemic learning gap.’’

Cameron’s speech showed he’s not conceding anything to Beshear and is willing to fight on the incumbent’s turf.

He promised educators he would be their ally in the governor’s office and vowed to take steps to stop the loss of teachers burdened by overloaded responsibilities, offering an empathetic voice over teacher burnout while noting his wife and mother were educators.

“Kentucky can’t afford to continue losing so many talented professionals out of the classroom simply because you’re not getting the support you so well deserve,” he said. “We need to fix this and we need to fix it quick.”

National News

Associated Press

The police chief who led a raid of a small Kansas newspaper has been suspended

The police chief who led a highly criticized raid of a small Kansas newspaper has been suspended, the mayor confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday. Marion Mayor Dave Mayfield in a text said he suspended Chief Gideon Cody on Thursday. He declined to discuss his decision further and did not say whether Cody was […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., listens to fellow speakers before President Joe Biden speaks on ...

Associated Press

Rep. Jamaal Bowman triggered a fire alarm in a House office building amid voting on a funding bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman acknowledged triggering a fire alarm Saturday in one of the U.S. Capitol office buildings as lawmakers scrambled to pass a bill to fund the government before the midnight shutdown deadline. The fire alarm sounded out around noon in the Cannon House Office Building and prompted a building-wide evacuation […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal agency sues Chipotle after a Kansas manager allegedly ripped off an employee’s hijab

A federal agency has sued the restaurant chain Chipotle, accusing it of religious harassment and retaliation after a manager at a Kansas location forcibly removed an employee’s hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that in 2021, an assistant manager at a Chipotle […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Virginia ex-superintendent convicted of misdemeanor in firing of teacher

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia jury has convicted a former schools superintendent on a misdemeanor charge in connection with what prosecutors said was the retaliatory firing of a teacher who reported that an elementary school student inappropriately touched her. Former Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler was acquitted on a separate misdemeanor count […]

4 hours ago

Doris Peters calls voters during a phone bank event Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at the Republican Par...

Associated Press

Anti-abortion groups are at odds on strategies ahead of Ohio vote. It could be a preview for 2024

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Abortion opponents in Ohio are at odds not only over how to frame their opposition to a reproductive rights initiative on the state’s November ballot but also over their longer-term goals on how severely they would restrict the procedure. The disagreements, roiling the anti-abortion side just six weeks before Election Day, […]

8 hours ago

Joe Heath, general counsel for the Onondaga Nation, walks into the Nation's Longhouse for a meeting...

Associated Press

Rejected by US courts, Onondaga Nation take centuries-old land rights case to international panel

ONONDAGA NATION TERRITORY (AP) — The Onondaga Nation has protested for centuries that illegal land grabs shrank its territory from what was once thousands of square miles in upstate New York to a relatively paltry patch of land south of Syracuse. It took its case to President George Washington, to Congress and, more recently, to […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

GOP nominee for Kentucky governor separates himself from ex-governor who feuded with educators