The hate campaign was a failed campaign Skip to content

The hate campaign was a failed campaign

The Mitch McConnell tactic of “make them dislike your opponent more than they like you” backfired this time.

“The report of my death was an exaggeration,” Mark Twain famously replied to an erroneous New York newspaper story about his passing.

The egregious gaffe ever reminds me of right-wing pundits and politicians who everlastingly preach the union movement’s funeral. Andy Beshear’s victory in the governor’s race suggested anew that conservative claims of labor’s demise are wishful thinking.

“Union members and their families came out strongly to support Beshear because he has worked with organized labor and our allies for four years and because he has fought back against the Republican-controlled legislature,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. 

There seems to be no doubt that unions played a big role in Gov. Beshear’s reelection. The state AFL-CIO made history in January by endorsing Beshear for a second term. Never before had the state’s largest labor organization backed a candidate so soon in an election cycle.

“The Kentucky State AFL-CIO is making this historic early endorsement of Gov. Andy Beshear to signify our commitment to re-elect Andy Beshear and demonstrate our resolve to keep Kentuckians safe from the false and harmful policies of our opponents,” said a statement from Londrigan.

A moderate Democrat, Beshear defeated Attorney Gen. Daniel Cameron, an unapologetically hard-right, Donald Trump-endorsed MAGA Republican, by about five percentage points.

As election time neared, a widely publicized poll had the candidates tied. But the contest turned out to be less than a nail-biter. The Cook Political Report and NBC News called the race before 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Not surprisingly, Beshear romped in union-strong Louisville and Jefferson County. He also won other counties with a significant union presence, notably Boyd (Ashland), Campbell (Newport), Daviess (Owensboro), Henderson (Henderson), Kenton (Covington) Fayette (Lexington) and Warren (Bowling Green).

“It just goes to show you that the workers of Kentucky have Andy Beshear’s back because he has ours,” added Londrigan.

Beshear, according to the AP’s Bruce Schreiner, notched “another significant statewide victory in an increasingly red state that could serve as a model for other Democrats on how to thrive politically heading into next year’s defining presidential election. ... The governor withstood relentless attempts to connect him to Democratic President Joe Biden, especially his handling of the economy.”

“The Republicans can denounce  ‘Bidenomics’ all they want to, but all you have to do is look at the largest economic development programs ever begun in the state of Kentucky,” said Kirk Gillenwaters, a United Auto Workers retiree and president of the Kentucky branch of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Gov. Beshear's economic program is moving us forward and providing good jobs that are going to create job security for the future.”

Far-right, anti-union MAGA Republicans enjoy supermajorities in the state House and Senate. Had Cameron won, he would have named opponents of organized labor to head boards and agencies that deal with workers compensation, unemployment insurance, worker safety and health, and other issues vital to workers, Gillenwaters said.

“We have a labor-friendly governor still in office,” said Jeff Wiggins, state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer. “Now that we have him for four more years we can concentrate on getting more labor-friendly people in the legislature.”

While Beshear ran on his record, Cameron ran as a take-no-prisoners MAGA culture warrior who demonized Beshear and the Democrats non-stop. The attacks started at the Fancy Farm picnic where he falsely charged that Beshear coddled “woke radicals” and cozied “with anti-Christian hate groups.” 

When the governor spoke, he rebuked Cameron and his party for “trying to pit us against each other, calling everybody names who disagrees with them, telling you its okay to yell at, even hate, your fellow Kentuckians.” Beshear said he was “ready to prove that’s a losing strategy in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Wiggins said the election results proved the governor right. “The people of Kentucky spoke and they said they just don’t like the hate stuff. 

“Politics shouldn’t be about hate. It should be about choosing who’s going to do the best job, not who can make the other one look the worst. The continuous Mitch McConnell agenda of always making his opponent look worse than him has got to stop in Kentucky and it’s got to stop in the nation. 

“Politics should be all about who we are going to elect to do the best job.”

Gillenwaters agreed. “The hate campaign was a failed campaign for the Republican Party.”

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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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