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'A man on the way up:' Beshear's reelection puts him into presidential play

Ryan Van Velzer
Gov. Andy Beshear is heading into his second term as leader of the Bluegrass State.

Andy Beshear is nowa twice-elected Democratic governor in a state that keeps trending Republican.

Beshear led the commonwealth through a pandemic and natural disasters. Faced with massive amounts of spending from state and national Republicans, Beshear emerged unscathed by President Joe Biden's unpopularity and the culture clashes that have hurt other Democrats.

Beshear is becoming a national figure who could be a presidential candidate as early as next year, according to one political observer.

“What if something happens to Joe Biden and Democrats have to pick another nominee? What if we have an open convention?," suggested veteran Kentucky journalist Al Cross. "Andy Beshear would be part of that conversation. Even if he decided not to run himself, he’d make a logical vice presidential nominee for someone like Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsome.”

Beshear said during his campaign he’s committed to completing eight years as governor. That would still allow him to launch a 2028 White House bid.

"I think Beshear will be getting lots of calls from lots of people and I wouldn't be surprised to see him start making visits to Iowa after this next round of caucuses," Cross said.

As for his replacement in four more years, some pundits say Beshear could be Kentucky's last Democratic governor for decades. Republicans hold the voter registration advantage and elect more members to state offices. Kentuckians have also moved right as the Democratic party has moved left, especially on social and cultural issues.

Cross, a professor in the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media and director of its Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said he thinks U.S. Rep. James Comer's ultimate goal has always been the governor's seat and expects he may launch a second bid. Comer lost the 2015 GOP primary to Matt Bevin by 83 votes.

Another possible GOP contender in 2027 is Secretary of State Michael Adams who was the top vote getter in last week’s election. Adams will be term-limited in four years, following his second term as the state’s chief elections officer.

Cross says his short list among Democrats is Beshear’s senior advisor Rocky Adkins, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, and U.S. Rep. Morgan McGarvey.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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