Beshear far outraises Cameron. But that’s only part of the money story. Skip to content

Beshear far outraises Cameron. But that’s only part of the money story.

Spending by outside groups likely to keep Republican challenger competitive in Kentucky governor’s race.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign outraised Republican challenger Daniel Cameron by more than double the amount of money in the first phase of Kentucky’s general election.

Beshear raised nearly $5.8 million since the primary election in May, compared to about $2.35 million raised by Cameron, according to reports filed Tuesday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Beshear’s huge fundraising edge is significant, but as the ad wars raging on television screens over the summer as well as reports filed by outside groups this week prove, the money raised by the two candidates will be only part of the story: Myriad outside groups are also raising large amounts to push for the election of Beshear or Cameron.

If Cameron continues to hold the confidence of three well-heeled donors to outside groups — the Republican Governors Association, a conservative “dark money” group called The Concord Fund, and Wall Street billionaire Jeff Yass – his message is likely to be competitive with Beshear’s until Nov. 7.

Here’s a quick look at reports filed Tuesday with the election registry.

Beshear campaign committee

Beshear reported nearly $5.8 million in contributions plus more than $6.2 million in unspent funds carried forward from his primary election campaign committee, plus $3 million contributed by the Kentucky Democratic Party. That totals a whopping $15 million.

The Beshear campaign reported spending nearly $10.8 million, leaving $4.2 million cash on hand.

Beshear’s report is voluminous, listing 8,752 contributions from individuals. (State law limits the amount any person can donate to a candidate for governor to $2,100 per election.)

The list of donors reflects the power of incumbency in raising money. Many state employees, appointees of Beshear to prestigious state boards, highway contractors, highway engineers, and officials of companies closely regulated by the state are listed among the donors.

Cameron campaign committee  

Cameron reported nearly $2.35 million in contributions, plus $450,000 donated by the Republican Party of Kentucky and only $15,500 in unspent funds carried forward from his competitive primary election campaign. That totals a bit more than $2.8 million in total receipts.

The campaign reported spending about $1.4 million, leaving it with $1.4 million in cash on hand.

Beshear outside groups

The main outside group supporting Beshear,  Defending Bluegrass Values, gets most of its money from the Democratic Governors Association, but also significant contributions from organized labor.

Defending Bluegrass Values reported a bit over $4 million in contributions over the summer, with $2.5 million of that donated by the Democratic Governors Association. The Democratic Governors Association does disclose the names of its donors.

Other big donors included $500,000 from the National Education Association Advocacy Fund and $400,000 from the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry.

Defending Bluegrass Values reported spending about $3.8 million, and reports a current balance on hand of $276,000.

Kentucky Family Values, another super PAC supporting Beshear, reported $495,000 in donations over the summer. Its largest donations were $200,000 each from the political committees of the Kentucky Education Association and the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

Kentucky Family Values reported spending $350,000 for “field organizing services.”

Planned Parenthood Action Kentucky reported raising $200,000 from Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc., of New York City. Its report shows it has yet to begin spending in the Kentucky governor’s race.

Cameron outside groups

Super PAC Bluegrass Freedom Action reported raising $1.75 million for its campaign that has aired attack ads against Behsear.

Most of its money — $1,050,000 — was donated by the conservative Washington-based “dark money” group The Concord Fund. In the primary election The Concord Fund also contributed $2,250,000 to Bluegrass Freedom Action — 75 percent of all money Bluegrass Freedom Action raised during the primary.

Like other super PACs and outside groups, Bluegrass Freedom Action can legally accept contributions of unlimited amounts. It must report the names of its donors to the Kentucky election registry.

But disclosing that The Concord Fund is a donor actually discloses almost nothing because The Concord Group is a type of contributing organization which is not required to disclose names of its donors.

The Concord Group is the only major dark money donor that has been active so far in Kentucky’s 2023 gubernatorial election.

Other large donors this summer to Bluegrass Freedom Action include: Bob Hutchison, Staffordsville, retired, $125,000; Kiki Courtelis, Georgetown, Town and Country Farms, $100,000; Safe Streets and Communities, Arlington, Va., $95,000; and Kenneth Fisher, Plano, Texas, chairman of Fisher Investments, $50,000.

Kentucky Values is another outside group advertising big to elect Cameron. It reported raising $8 million over the summer — all of it from the Republican Governors Association.

Kentucky Values reported spending $7.1 million  of that $8 million on advertising campaigns attacking Beshear. Most of the television ads you’ve seen attacking Beshear have been paid for by the money the Republican Governors Association gave to Kentucky Values.

The Republican Governors Association gets contributions from across the country and does disclose the names of its donors.

Two outside groups supporting Cameron, Protect Freedom PAC and School Freedom Fund, which together have spent about $4 million on advertising attacking Beshear, are registered with the Federal Election Commission and were not required to file reports Tuesday. Both groups are largely funded by Yass.

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Written by Tom Loftus. Cross-posted from the Kentucky Lantern.



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Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service. We’re based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.

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