FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Vowing to be a “voice for the voiceless,” Daniel Cameron was sworn in Tuesday as the first African American in Kentucky history to serve as the state’s attorney general.
Cameron, a protege of U.S Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, becomes the first Republican in 70 years to serve as the state’s top prosecutor.
Asked about his trailblazing role, Cameron told reporters that his election “says a lot” about Kentucky voters, saying “all they cared about” was his vision for the AG’s office.
“I hope it says to people that look like me that regardless of what your political affiliation is, that not only can you cast your ballot in an election but you can also put your name on that ballot,” he said. “That you will be judged on your merit and your talent and your skills rather than the color of your skin. I think that’s what we all want as Kentuckians.”
Cameron, 34, defeated Democrat Greg Stumbo in November. Cameron took office a few weeks early when his predecessor, Gov. Andy Beshear, appointed him to serve the remainder of his term as attorney general. The term for which Cameron was elected begins on Jan. 6.
With his hand on a Bible being held by his mother, Cameron was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove during a ceremony in the Attorney General’s office at the state Capitol. Cameron served as a law clerk for the judge.
Afterward, Cameron pledged to continue the “good work” started by Beshear during the Democrat’s term as attorney general.
“We will work diligently on behalf of all Kentuckians to make sure that we are a voice for the voiceless,” Cameron said.
Beshear and Cameron previously worked together in the same law firm. Cameron quipped during the ceremony that Beshear was the first attorney in the firm to hand him work.
Despite their political differences, the two have spoken optimistically of being able to work well together.
“Every day you’ll have the opportunity to wake up and to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves,” Beshear said during the ceremony, where he signed the executive order allowing Cameron to get a head start as attorney general.
Beshear also handed Cameron a letter — a custom between outgoing and incoming AGs.
Cameron thanked the new governor for the early appointment, saying “it says a lot about the culture and the atmosphere and the environment that I think begins anew here in our state’s Capitol.” Beshear has stressed the need for civility among the state’s political leaders.
Beshear’s term as AG, however, was overshadowed by his feud with now-former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Beshear filed a series of lawsuits challenging some of Bevin’s executive actions. Beshear ousted Bevin in last month’s election and took office last week.
Cameron, a former University of Louisville football player, worked as McConnell’s general counsel and helped push through the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
After his swearing in, Cameron declined immediate comment when asked about the spree of pardons issued by Bevin on his way out the door.
Last week, a couple of Democratic lawmakers called on Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor or a bipartisan team to investigate some of the ex-governor’s pardons. Bevin’s pardon-granting binge included one for a convicted killer whose family raised campaign money for Bevin.