Governor Beshear speaking at the Envision AESC announcement. (Photo from Beshear’s official Flickr page.)

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

Even the most devout Democrats concede — privately at least — that the Republicans will likely maintain, if not enhance, their state House and Senate supermajorities on Nov. 8.

So do such down-in-the-dumps Dems dare hope that Gov. Andy Beshear might win a second term next year?

“Beshear is the most popular Democratic governor and one of the most popular governors in the United States, according to a new poll,” boasts a fund-raising email from the Kentucky Democratic party.

As we say in western Kentucky: “Do what?”

“The Morning Consult poll shows that 59% of registered voters in Kentucky approve of Gov. Beshear’s job performance,” adds the email. “The results are consistent with previous Morning Consult surveys indicating strong approval ratings for Gov. Beshear since he took office, as well as a Mason-Dixon poll showing a 60% approval rating for Gov. Beshear three months ago.”

In the email, KDP Chair Coleman Elridge brags on the governor: “With his strong and steady response to a once-in-a-century pandemic and devastating storms, Gov. Beshear has put people before politics and led us through some of our hardest days. The Governor is now leading us into our best days, shattering economic records and building a brighter future for working families across the commonwealth as the best jobs governor in our history. Despite the constant partisan attacks from Frankfort, Kentuckians across the political divide know that Gov. Beshear is working for them, so it’s no surprise almost two-thirds of Kentuckians approve of the job he’s doing.”

Here’s more from the email: “Gov. Beshear shattered all economic development records in 2021, announcing more than 18,000 new jobs with companies announcing more than $11.2 billion in investment, including the largest in state history: Ford and partner SK Innovation building two electric battery plants in Hardin County creating 5,000 Kentucky jobs and investing $5.8 billion. This month, Gov. Beshear announced the second largest project in Kentucky history, with Envision AESC investing $2 billion and creating 2,000 jobs in Warren County to build an electric vehicle battery factory, cementing Kentucky as the nation’s EV battery capital.”

You can bet the Republicans figure they have a pair of aces in the hole to beat Beshear: Donald Trump and social issues. They’re counting on both to trump — pun intended — Beshear’s good grades from John and Jane Q Citizen.

It doesn’t matter who wins the May 2023 GOP gubernatorial primary. All of the Republicans who want to take on Beshear will slam him on the social issues while they strain to out-Trump each other.

The poll numbers hint that when it comes to Beshear, it might be “the economy, stupid,” and that voters might be inclined to vote accordingly.

Meanwhile, Beshear has refused to join the GOP in pandering to prejudice. (Heretofore, in rural, conservative Bible Belt counties, a lot of Democratic candidates have been virtually indistinguishable from Republican office-seekers on what one of my oldest union buddies calls “The Three G’s: God, Guns, and Gays.”)

Beshear is pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ rights. He vetoed HB 3, a draconian anti-abortion measure which makes no exception for women impregnated by rape or incest.

Beshear refused to hop on the anti-Critical Race theory bandwagon, vetoing SB1, which was designed, in part, to make teachers whitewash Black history in classrooms. (The House and Senate overrode his veto of HB 3 and SB 1.)

For more than 40 years, the GOP has been winning in rural America by trotting out the social issues to hide their main agenda: enriching the already rich.

If more voters really are catching on to the GOP social issues scam, Beshear has a shot at winning a second term. And, who knows – the Democrats this fall might hold their own or maybe even pick up a House or Senate seat or two.

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Commentary

Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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