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November 1, 2022

Kentucky Democrats celebrate Beshear win while Republicans address Cameron loss

Isabella Edghill
Kentucky’s Democratic election night party started and ended on a positive note after Beshear secured four more years as governor. Photo by Isabella Edghill

The Republican election night party for candidate Daniel Cameron, which took place at the Downtown Marriott Hotel, was full of families with young children, older constituents and even a young man in an American flag suit migrating in and out of the first-floor ballroom. The atmosphere of the night began as exciting and uplifting, full of greetings and introductions.

However, as the event progressed and election results flowed in, the mood began to die down. An hour after the polls closed, Beshear was up by 20% and continued to lead Cameron in votes the rest of the evening. Nevertheless, the event attendees remained passionate. 

“Well, I think this election is a great opportunity for Kentucky to show its conservative values and how important the last couple of years have been and the bad decisions of the Beshear administration, including the decision to close schools and open up jails during COVID,” Shane Noem, a Republican lobbyist, said. “I think it’s a good chance for Republicans to make their voices heard.”

Meanwhile, less than ten minutes away at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, Gov. Andy Beshear’s election night party was in full swing. Blue lights swept over the hall, packed with campaign staff, politicians and hopeful Kentuckians. Drinks passed from hand to hand, and shouts of excitement flew above the music as friends and colleagues came together in hopeful anticipation. 

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Although the mood was highly positive, the gravity of the evening was not lost on party attendants. 

“In all of my years of voting, this may be the most important election of my entire life,” Chris Clements, an attendee of the Democratic political party event said, “Today my vote is for the LGBT community and for all the educators out there. It’s for the seniors and elders, and anybody else who feels marginalized out there in our community… because these people’s voices will not be heard if the other thing happens.”

Many attendees praised Beshear’s leadership over the past four years.

“He has demonstrated his talents and he has been effective. He’s been there to protect the interests of the people, and he has been an individual who has not tried to just play politics, he has tried to deliver services to people,” State Senator Gerald Neal said. Some voters returning to the polls in precinct G140 agreed with Neal, stating that “character” and “leadership” were motivating factors when casting their ballot. 

“Governor Beshear has done such a great job reaching out and trying to bridge the rural-urban divide. I am confident post re-election he can continue to build on that progress,” Deputy Mayor for Public Health and Services Nicole George said.

Partygoers also felt pride in Beshear’s commitment to a positive campaign.

“Andy Beshear ran on a positive message about what Kentucky is, what it’s becoming and what it can be, and that that message was accepted and believed in, in a bipartisan fashion. I think he has tapped into something that I hope we don’t go back from,” Colmon Elridge, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party said.

Anxious glances at one of two big screens displaying KET’s election night coverage interrupted the otherwise party-like atmosphere. Throughout the evening, the race grew closer, but Beshear maintained a healthy lead. By 8:20 p.m. or so, whispers began to bounce around the room as people dared to call the race in Beshear’s favor.

“I’m feeling very excited and I’m feeling quite confident that Governor Beshear will pull through,” George said.

At 9 p.m. the crowd’s hopes were confirmed when KET called the race in favor of Beshear. Ecstatic cheers began making their way through the room as more and more attendees realized what had happened. Andy Beashear had just become the third governor in Kentucky history to serve two consecutive terms. A chant of “Andy, Andy, Andy!” broke out.

“Folks, this wasn’t my win. This was our victory. It was a victory that sends a loud, clear message. A message that candidates should run for something, and not against someone. That a candidate should show vision and not sow division. And a clear statement that anger politics should end right here and right now,” Beshear said in his victory speech.

Beshear focused his campaign on creating new jobs for Kentucky, expanding access to the internet, abortion care and medical marijuana, as well as the recent legalization of sports betting. On the other hand, Cameron’s campaign focused on issues such as lowering crime, addressing the opioid epidemic, supporting the police and addressing broader nationwide issues. Both candidates used their campaigns to highlight their differing stances on issues such as LGBTQ healthcare and abortion rights, along party lines. 

A chant of “Four more years!” began in the middle of Beshear’s speech as the crowd celebrated their candidate’s victory. Although relieved at their candidates win, party goers recognized that the next four years will not be easy for their party. 

“I’m really excited Governor Beshear is going to be able to retain his seat as governor of Kentucky especially in this crucial time, but one of the things we need to be very focused on over the next two to three years is what the democratic party is going to do in terms of future leadership,” Joi McAtee, the Vice President of Louisville Young Democrats said. “We’ve seen the impact of SB 150, we’ve seen the ridiculous attacks on Black history and CRT, and so we are really going to have to get serious about our political future.”

In the end, Beshear gained 52.5% votes while Cameron gained 47.4%. Citizens of the Commonwealth will have to wait and see what will happen this legislative session in a state dominated by the Republican supermajority legislative assembly, but a Democratic governor.

This story was originally published on Manual RedEye on November 13, 2023.