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Daniel Cameron’s wife Makenze pans Beshear’s teacher raise proposal during campaign stop

Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron watches on as his wife, Makenze, speaks at a Moms for Cameron event.
Sylvia Goodman | LPM
Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron watches on as his wife, Makenze, speaks at a Moms for Cameron event.

During a campaign stop in Louisville, Republican candidate for governor Daniel Cameron and his wife Makenze discussed issues like “learning loss,” inflation and so-called gender and political ideology in Kentucky schools.

At the event, Makenze Cameron criticized Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s education plan, which in part calls for 11% raises for all school staff.

“You can find that laughable because we in this room know that he does not have the power to do that himself,” she said.

Makenze Cameron said her husband, Kentucky’s one-term Republican attorney general, talked to the legislature’s GOP leaders before proposing his own plan which calls for a statewide base starting pay rate for new teachers at $41,500. It does not include raises for any current teachers.

In a statement, Beshear spokesperson Alex Floyd said Cameron doesn’t take raising teachers’ pay seriously.

“Daniel Cameron’s campaign may think an 11% raise is infeasible, but Andy Beshear knows that fairly compensating our hard-working teachers is no laughing matter,” Floyd said. “With record budget surpluses, our educators deserve a long overdue raise — and our schools need it to recruit and retain the best for our kids.”

Makenze Cameron is a former Oldham County school teacher. During the event, she railed against remote learning and masking requirements imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. She said the health requirements meant Beshear did not “care about Kentucky’s kids.”

During the “Moms For Cameron” event in Louisville, she touted recent measures passed by the GOP-led legislature limiting how teachers talk about sexuality in schools and creating mandates about how race and American history are discussed in the classroom.

“You will have a leader who will get out some of this gender identity, CRT [critical race theory] and some of the far-left ideas that are making their way into your classroom.”

She also talked about her 20-month-old son, Theodore, as a motivation for her husband in politics.

“When I think about his future, I just worry about what Kentucky will look like when Theodore is going to high school or going to college or going to his first job or meeting his wife,” Makenze said. “Faith, family and community. Will they still be present in Kentucky when Theodore is our age? And when Theodore is establishing a family of his own?”

Makenze told the crowd of mostly women that she believes her husband will “protect the family unit” as governor by further reducing income tax and lowering inflation.

Daniel Cameron called for eliminating the income tax in Kentucky, though a recent report shows the state did not meet the conditions laid out by lawmakers to reduce the income tax again in the upcoming legislative session.

“We know that the inflation that comes out of Washington D.C. or out of a Beshear administration is harming Kentucky's families, and it is not setting our kids up for long term success,” Makenze Cameron said.

The speech found purchase for some in the crowd. Donna Ehrsam said she loves Cameron’s “family values” and “Christian faith.”

“I just want our kids to learn. I want them to feel safe at school,” she said.

Emily Tourinho, who attended the event with her 1-year-old daughter, said she wants parents to have more say over the books and issues students discuss in schools.

“Going back to the basics, trying to get schools to go back to what’s important,” Tourinho said. “No political ideologies. Just teaching math, science, reading, writing.”

This story has been updated.

Sylvia is Kentucky Public Radio's Capitol reporter. Email her at