FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — For those who haven’t been paying much attention to the governor’s race in Kentucky, soon it will be hard to avoid. This past holiday weekend also represents a big turning point on the campaign trail.
Voters could call now until November the ‘final phase’ of the governor’s race. Labor Day generally marks the final, critical two months before election day.
“You know, this is the biggest race in the country. So, lots of money has flown to it,” said Al Cross, Director Emeritus for the University of Kentucky’s Institute of Rural Journalism. It’s money that’s being spent big on political messages in mailboxes and ad time on TV screens.
“It can’t increase too much because they’re already buying very heavily,” Cross said.
Cross, a longtime political reporter and commentator. noted that despite being three and a half months past the May primary election, the polls haven’t shifted a lot between Gov. Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron, with the incumbent Democrat holding a slim but consistent lead.
“When you put a bunch of polls together and they all have fundamentally the same result, then you can be pretty confident that is the truth,” Cross said.
From the May primary through the end of August, Louisville’s Courier-Journal has tracked campaign stops across Kentucky, and their map shows Cameron with a wider ground game, which is something Cross said the Republican nominee needs to keep building.
“Cameron needs to get out more. You know, Beshear has been governor for more than three and a half years, and he’s a popular governor. So, it’s not like he has to show up in every county. Cameron still has to introduce himself,” he said.
Cross says Cameron has likely built up a base of voters, but it won’t be until November when it’s known just how big it is. Beshear has already made a name for himself during the pandemic.
“His approval ratings were in the seventies at one point, and they basically settled out at around 60. And, you know, that’s a recipe for reelection,” Cross said.
However, Cross said it remains to be seen if voters will have “buyer’s remorse” over the pandemic and pointed to sliding state test scores as an opportunity for Cameron. He also said Cameron’s Fraternal Order of Police endorsement is a big benefit. However, Cross believed the biggest x-factor in this race was the man who arguably secured Cameron’s Republican nomination.
“Donald Trump. Will he come to Kentucky after all? Or will he be seen as too radioactive for an appearance by Cameron? That, to me, is the biggest remaining question in the election for governor,” Cross said.
On Tuesday, voters will get a snapshot of how the campaigns are doing financially; however, Cross said he’s not paying as much attention to that as prior governor’s races because both are well funded, and in modern politics, who leads fundraising numbers does not necessarily predict the outcome of the race, especially when there’s a lot of outside super PAC money in the mix.