Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Two inches of rain soaked Saint Jerome’s Parish grounds within 24 hours of the first speech at the Fancy Farm annual picnic on Saturday. So it was fitting that Gov. Andy Beshear, who’s staked much of his leadership on disaster recovery, highlighted his activity to help West Kentucky rebuild after a tornado devastated the region in 2021, including downtown Mayfield located just eight miles away. Beshear punched at GOP nominee for governor Daniel Cameron for “not showing up” for recovery relief. But Cameron, who spoke first, landed blows that pointed out the resurfaced photo of Gov. Beshear with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and his veto of legislation that bans high doses of cross sex hormones and surgical intervention of gender dysphoric minors.

As he often does, Beshear appealed to the Christian faith. “Today at Saint Jerome’s, remember were told not only to talk about faith, but to live it out.” He appealed to the Golden Rule and to love our neighbor as ourself. It was a deflection that he supports puberty blockers and surgical intervention for gender dysphoric minors. He reiterated on stage what his latest TV ad is saying: “it’s all lies.”

Conservative Christians agree that loving their neighbors is the second great command. However, loving one’s neighbor requires telling them the truth and seeking their good. If Scripture is going to be appealed to at all, it must be appealed to consistently. Romans 13:10a says “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” Conservatives believe that it is wrong to surgically mutilate the healthy sexual organs of minors just because they are confused about their gender. They’ve interceded for their gender dysphoric neighbors who need an advocate, not just affirmation. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. That’s why SB 150 received bipartisan support and a veto override.

To the chagrin of Republicans, Beshear is claiming credit for the hundreds of millions of dollars of new investments coming to Kentucky. Republicans contend they are responsible for creating an economic climate favorable to new investments since they won a majority in the state House in 2016. Specifically, they point out Beshear’s veto of an income tax reduction bill in 2022. 

Many claims were made by all candidates on the stage. But just as the ground was muddy, political posturing on the Fancy Farm stage often obscures the facts. Consider a few more claims that Beshear made:

*Kentucky has the lowest unemployment in its history. However there are 27,000 fewer workers employed in Kentucky than when Beshear took office. 

*He has signed 627 bipartisan bills into law since taking office. What Beshear doesn’t talk about is the 110 vetoes that were overridden by the state legislature.

*Republicans tried to cut public pensions and he “saved the pensions of every teacher and police officer.” The GOP-led legislature never tried to cut the pensions. Rather, they modified it to a 401k type program for new hires to make it more sustainable. In fact, for the past two years Kentucky Retired Teachers Association has thanked the GOP legislature for fully funding the pensions. When Republicans took control of the state House in 2017, the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS) was approximately 40 percent funded. Today, it is 60 percent funded.

*Beshear is claiming in a TV ad that gender transitions of minors isn’t happening in Kentucky. However, a letter from the Office of UK HealthCare’s Chief Physician Executive, Dr. Jay Grider, to State Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) confirmed that UK’s Transform Clinic provides cross sex hormone therapy for minors age 14 and older. The letter also confirmed they’ve performed double mastectomy’s on “older adolescent” females. 

Beshear’s approval rating of 63 percent remains among the highest in the nation. But he has yet to defend his policy positions to the voters. The strong challenge by Daniel Cameron will likely draw down the reservoir of goodwill toward Beshear. Whether he has enough to buoy him to another four year term will be decided on November 7.