Andy Beshear
Governor-Beshear Official-Picture.jpg
Official portrait of Beshear
63rd Governor of Kentucky
Assumed office
December 10, 2019
LieutenantJacqueline Coleman
Preceded byMatt Bevin
50th Attorney General of Kentucky
In office
January 4, 2016 – December 10, 2019
GovernorMatt Bevin
Preceded byJack Conway
Succeeded byDaniel Cameron
Personal details
Born
Andrew Graham Beshear

(1977-11-29) November 29, 1977 (age 43)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Britainy Beshear
(m. 2006)
Children2
RelativesSteve Beshear (father)
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion
EducationVanderbilt University (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)
Signature
WebsiteGovernment website

Andrew Graham Beshear (born November 29, 1977) is an American attorney and politician who has served as the 63rd Governor of Kentucky since December 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the son of Steve and Jane Klingner Beshear – the 61st Governor and first lady of Kentucky.

Beshear was elected attorney general of Kentucky in November 2015. As attorney general, Beshear sued Governor Matt Bevin (his predecessor in turn was his father) several times over issues such as health care and pensions, before challenging and narrowly defeating Bevin in the 2019 gubernatorial election.

Early life and education[edit]

Beshear was born in Louisville, the son of Steve and Jane (Klingner) Beshear.[1] He grew up in Fayette, Franklin, and Clark counties and graduated from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Steve Beshear was the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 2007 to 2015.[2]

Beshear attended Vanderbilt University, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in political science and anthropology. He then attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctor. In 2005, he was hired by the law firm Stites & Harbison.[3][4] He represented the developers of the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline, which would have transported natural gas through the state.[5][6] He also represented the company UFLEX, which sought $20 million in tax breaks from his father's administration, drawing criticism from ethics watchdogs over a potential conflict of interest.[7]

Political career[edit]

Kentucky Attorney General[edit]

2015 Kentucky Attorney General election[edit]

In November 2013, Beshear announced his candidacy for the 2015 election for Attorney General of Kentucky to succeed Democrat Jack Conway, who could not run for reelection due to term limits.[8][9] He defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield by a margin of 0.2 percent, getting 50.1% of the vote to Westerfield's 49.9%.[10][11]

Tenure[edit]

In April 2016, Beshear sued governor Matt Bevin over his mid-cycle budget cuts to the state university system, which Beshear said Bevin was not authorized to do.[12] The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a 5–2 ruling agreeing with Beshear that Bevin did not have the authority to make mid-cycle budget cuts without the approval of the General Assembly.[13]

In April 2018, Beshear again successfully sued Bevin, this time for signing Senate Bill 151, a controversial plan to reform teacher pensions,[14][15] with the Supreme Court ruling the bill unconstitutional.[16]

By November 2018, Beshear had filed nine lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for their alleged involvement in fueling Kentucky's opioid epidemic.[17]

Beshear joined 15 other attorneys general in December 2018 in opposing the ruling of a Texas judge that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.[18] Beshear said: "for so many families the Affordable Care Act is a matter of life and death."[18]

Beshear served just one term as Attorney General, foregoing a run for a second term in 2019 to instead run successfully for Governor. Beshear resigned from the Attorney General's office on December 10, 2019, to be sworn in as the 63rd Governor of Kentucky. He was replaced by Daniel Cameron on December 17.[citation needed]

Governor of Kentucky[edit]

2019 gubernatorial election[edit]

On July 9, 2018, Beshear declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Kentucky in the 2019 election.[19] His running mate was Jacqueline Coleman, a nonprofit president, assistant principal, and former state house candidate.[20] In announcing his candidacy, Beshear said he would "make public education a priority."[15] In May 2019, he won the Democratic nomination with 38 percent of the vote in a three-way contest.[21][22]

Beshear and his campaign focused on local issues specific to Kentucky, such as Medicaid expansion, education funding, and pensions.[citation needed]

The night of the November 5 election, NBC News and other major outlets called Beshear the "apparent winner" over incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin,[23][24] though the Associated Press called the race "too close to call" with less than half a percent of the vote separating them.[25][26][27] Beshear won by 0.37 percentage points, getting 49.20% of the vote to Bevin's 48.83%.[28] Days later, Bevin had not conceded the race, claiming large-scale voting "irregularities" but not offering evidence.[28] However, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' office declared Beshear the winner.[29]

On November 14, 2019, Bevin conceded the election after a recanvass was performed at his request that resulted in just one single change, an additional vote for a write-in candidate.[30]

Tenure[edit]

Beshear was inaugurated as governor at 12:01 p.m. on December 10, 2019.[31] In his inaugural address at the public ceremony later that day, Beshear called on Republicans, who have a supermajority in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly, to reach across the aisle and solve Kentucky's issues in a bipartisan way.[32] Beshear fired all eleven members of Kentucky's state education board on his first day in office, all of whom had been appointed by his predecessor, Matt Bevin, promising a fresh start. On December 12, 2019, Beshear signed an executive order to restore voting rights to all adults in Kentucky who have been convicted of non-violent felonies who have served their sentence, affecting over 156,000 eligible individuals.[33][34]

Beshear began overseeing the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March 2020.[35] There has been contentious political debate over his decision to dispatch state troopers to record the license plate numbers or VINs of persons that violated the state's stay-at-home order to attend in-person Easter Sunday church services in April.[36]

In June 2020, Beshear announced his resolve to work towards universal health care for all African-American residents of Kentucky in an attempt to resolve health care inequities which came to light during the COVID-19 pandemic.[37][38]

On November 18, 2020, Beshear ordered Kentucky's public and private schools to halt in-person learning as the state's number of COVID-19 cases continued to grow – the first time that the governor had ordered, rather than recommended, schools to cease in-person instruction.[39] Danville Christian Academy, joined by Attorney general Daniel Cameron, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky against Beshear's order, claiming that it violated the First Amendment by prohibiting religious organizations to educate children in accordance with their faith.[40] Four private schools later filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit against Beshear.[41]

Political positions[edit]

Beshear is seen as a moderate Democrat. Both his social and fiscal beliefs are seen as left-leaning. However, he has expressed his desire and intent to work with Republicans across the aisle on all issues. Many of his newly appointed cabinet members are registered Republicans.[42]

Criminal justice[edit]

As Kentucky Attorney General, Beshear fought companies responsible for Kentucky's opioid crisis and got US$9.5 million in settlements for 16 treatment centers across the state.[citation needed] Beshear signed an executive order as governor to completely restore the voting rights of those convicted of non-violent felonies.[33]

Economic policy[edit]

Beshear states that he wants to bring more advanced manufacturing jobs to Kentucky to offset job losses due to the decline of coal. In addition, Beshear wants to increase the number of health care jobs in the state. Beshear opposes the right-to-work law signed by Bevin.[32]

Education[edit]

Beshear supports a major pay raise for all teachers in Kentucky, who earn one of the lowest salaries of any teachers in the country.[32]

Environment[edit]

Beshear accepts that climate change is real and caused by humans. He wants to create more clean energy jobs to employ those who got laid off of their coal jobs and wants to expand clean coal technology in Kentucky.[43]

Health care[edit]

Beshear supports Kentucky's Medicaid expansion, which provides affordable health care to over 500,000 Kentuckians, including all people with pre-existing conditions. Beshear criticized Bevin for trying to roll back the state's Medicaid expansion (which ultimately failed). As Attorney General and Governor, Beshear repeatedly expressed support for the Affordable Care Act and has criticized efforts to strike the law down in the courts.[43] On October 5, 2020, Beshear announced the relaunch and expansion of kynect, the state health insurance marketplace that was started in 2013 during Steve Beshear's term as governor and dismantled by Bevin in 2017.[44]

Infrastructure[edit]

Beshear supports the project to replace the Brent Spence Bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River between Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. The project has long been delayed, and the bridge is considered to be the most critical transportation link in the state of Kentucky. Beshear has expressed a willingness to work with Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, to start the project. Beshear hopes to fund the bridge through conventional means and not tolling, however, he is unsure if the state has the funds to do that.[45]

Beshear has also expressed support for the construction of the Interstate 69 Ohio River Bridge between Henderson, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana. He has stated that the project would be a priority for his first term, believing it would provide economic benefits to Western Kentucky.[46]

Pensions[edit]

Beshear supports expanding gaming and gambling in Kentucky to help fund the state's pension system, which has accumulated US$24 billion in debt since 2000, the most of any state in the country. Beshear opposed pension cuts made by Bevin, and wants to guarantee all workers pensions for when they retire.[43]

As of June 30, 2020 the Kentucky State Pension Fund is at 58.8% of its obligations for the coming decades.[47]

Social issues[edit]

Governor Beshear supports legal same-sex marriage and was the first sitting Governor of Kentucky to attend an LGBTQ-rights rally.[48] He has described his position on abortion, stating that "women should be able make their own reproductive healthcare decisions" including abortion, and he was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group.[49] As governor, he vetoed a bill, widely described as anti-abortion, to allow the Attorney General's office to exercise more power over regulating clinics that offer abortion procedures.[50] In 2021, he allowed a bill, called a "born-alive bill," considered by pro-abortion rights advocates to be anti-abortion, to become a law without his signature.[51] Such bills are criticized as unnecessary because current laws already require all infants to receive proper medical care.[51]

COVID-19[edit]

On March 25, 2020, Beshear declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.[52] Beshear took several steps to stop the spread of COVID-19, including banning interstate travel for Kentuckians, banning all mass-gatherings, and encouraging business owners to deny service to anyone that does not wear a mask into a business.[53][54] He has since been criticized for not calling the General Assembly into a special session (a power only the Governor has) in order to work with state representatives to better address the needs of their constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic.[55] In November 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Beshear's emergency coronavirus executive orders.[56] In late November 2020, Governor Beshear imposed new restrictions to further slow the spread of COVID-19, including closing all indoor service for restaurants and bars, restricting in-person learning for school, limited occupancy for gyms and limiting social gatherings.[57] His targeted closures were met with some criticism after it was discovered that state and local authorities were unable to establish contact tracing as it relates to certain types of businesses listed in his restrictions.[58] On June 11, 2021, Beshear lifted most of Kentucky's COVID-19 restrictions.[59][60] The day beforehand, the Kentucky Supreme Court once again heard arguments regarding Beshear's emergency powers.[61][62][63]

Personal life[edit]

Beshear and his wife Britainy are both members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and serve as deacons.[64][65] They have two children.[3]

On April 21, 2020, an attorney from Louisville, Kentucky named James Gregory Troutman was arrested by Kentucky State Police and charged with one count of third-degree terroristic threatening for allegedly writing social media posts that were deemed as threats against Beshear's life, with one of the posts alluding to the 1900 assassination of William Goebel.[66][67][68][69] In January 2021, the charge against Troutman was dismissed without prejudice.[70][71]

Electoral history[edit]

2015 Kentucky Attorney General Democratic Primary
Beshear ran uncontested.

Democratic primary Results[72]
Candidate Votes %
Andy Beshear Unopposed

2015 Kentucky Attorney General Election

Kentucky Attorney General election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Andy Beshear 479,929 50.1%
Republican Whitney Westerfield 477,735 49.9%
Total votes 957,664 100.0%
Democratic hold

2019 Kentucky Gubernatorial Democratic Primary

Democratic Primary Results
Candidate Votes %
Andy Beshear 149,438 37.9%
Rocky Adkins 125,970 31.9%
Adam Edelen 110,159 27.9%
Geoff Young 8,923 2.3%
Total votes 394,490 100.0%

2019 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election

Kentucky gubernatorial election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Andy Beshear 709,577 49.20%
Republican Matt Bevin (incumbent) 704,388 48.83%
Libertarian John Hicks 28,425 1.97%
Total votes 1,442,390 100.0%
Democratic gain from Republican

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jack Conway
Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Kentucky
2015
Succeeded by
Greg Stumbo
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kentucky
2019
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Jack Conway
Attorney General of Kentucky
2016–2019
Succeeded by
Daniel Cameron
Political offices
Preceded by
Matt Bevin
Governor of Kentucky
2019–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kamala Harris
as Vice President
Order of precedence of the United States
Within Kentucky
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Phil Scott
as Governor of Vermont
Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Kentucky
Succeeded by
Bill Lee
as Governor of Tennessee