AP Election Brief | Anticipations for Kentucky’s Gubernatorial Election

by Gabriel Martinez
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Kentucky governor election

Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, is running for re-election in a state that leans significantly toward the Republican Party. His bid for a second term is set to be one of the most hotly contested and watched gubernatorial races in the current election cycle, happening on Tuesday.

Beshear is up against Republican candidate Daniel Cameron, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump and who succeeded Beshear as the state’s attorney general in 2019. Cameron is determined to return the governor’s office to Republican hands, which would grant his party full dominance in Kentucky’s legislative processes.

As the progeny of Steve Beshear, a two-term Democratic governor, Andy Beshear is currently one of the rare Democratic governors in a state that favored Trump in the previous two presidential elections. The count of such Democratic governors will decrease to three after John Bel Edwards of Louisiana steps down in January.

Historically, the governor’s seat in Kentucky was often held by Democrats throughout the 20th century, with only two Republicans occupying the position in the past five decades. Despite this history, the state has trended towards the Republican party, as evidenced by its presidential election votes and the continuous election of Republican senators since 1998.

Beshear’s candidacy remains strong even in this conservative shift. He has maintained a significant financial lead, spending over $16 million against Cameron’s $3.4 million by late October.

Over the past two decades, the governorship in Kentucky has swung between the two parties on four occasions. Cameron is looking to add a fifth switch. If successful, Cameron, once an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell, would become the fourth African American governor in the United States and the first Black Republican governor since the Reconstruction era. Currently, Wes Moore of Maryland is the sole African American serving as a state governor.

Looking towards election night, here is what to expect:


The polls for the general election in Kentucky are set for Tuesday. They will close at 6 p.m. local time. However, Kentucky spans two time zones, with a majority of the state (79 counties) adhering to Eastern time and 41 counties operating in Central time, closing an hour later.


Coverage from The Big Big News will extend to seven electoral contests in Kentucky, which includes the races for governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and a special election in House District 93.


All voters registered in Kentucky by the October 11 deadline are qualified to vote in the general election on Tuesday. Kentucky does not allow for same-day voter registration.


In his first election in 2019, Beshear narrowly overcame Republican incumbent Matt Bevin by a slim margin of slightly over 5,000 votes. To secure re-election, Beshear will need to replicate his prior strategy, which involves amassing significant leads in Democratic strongholds, making inroads in typically Republican areas, and limiting losses in the Republican heartlands.

In the only two counties won by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race, Beshear had outperformed the Democratic candidate. He also managed to secure votes in 20 other counties that supported Trump, indicating a potential for cross-party appeal.

His re-election could hinge on his performance in swing counties, such as Kenton and Warren, and his ability to maintain or improve his 2019 vote shares in counties he lost.

The AP, committed to accuracy, does not predict winners but will announce one when it becomes clear that the trailing candidate no longer has a feasible path to victory. Even if a race remains officially undecided, the AP will report significant events such as candidate concessions or claims of victory, clarifying that an official declaration has not been made.

Kentucky statutes mandate an automatic recount if the leading candidates’ margin is less than 0.5%. For larger margins, candidates can still request a recount through legal channels. The AP may declare a winner if it determines the margin is large enough that a recount would not alter the result.


As of mid-October, nearly 3.5 million voters were registered in Kentucky, with Republicans holding a slight edge over Democrats in registration numbers.

Prior to Election Day, about 40,000 votes had been cast, with a majority coming from registered Democrats. The mode of early voting showed a preference for mail by both parties, though in-person early voting was also notable.

Comparing to the 2019 general election, the rate of early voting has increased significantly after the introduction of new voting legislation in 2021.


Traditionally, Kentucky has a track record of counting the majority of votes on the night of the election. During the last general election, initial results were reported shortly after the polls closed, and by the early hours of the following morning, most of the votes were tallied. Any remaining counting usually concludes by the afternoon of the next day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Kentucky governor election

What is the main focus of the Kentucky governor election?

The primary focus of the Kentucky governor election is the re-election campaign of Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, facing off against Republican nominee Daniel Cameron. It’s considered a highly competitive race in a traditionally Republican-leaning state.

Who are the key candidates in this election?

The key candidates in the Kentucky governor election are the incumbent, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, and the Republican nominee, Daniel Cameron, who previously served as the state’s attorney general.

How has the political landscape in Kentucky evolved over the years?

Despite a historical preference for Democratic governors in Kentucky, the state has shifted towards the Republican Party, with only two Republican governors in the last half-century. Kentucky has also voted Republican in nine of the last 11 presidential elections.

What are the major issues in this election?

While specific issues may vary, key factors in this election include the financial dynamics of the candidates, voter turnout, and how well each candidate can appeal to voters in both traditional strongholds and swing counties.

When and where will the election take place?

The Kentucky general election is scheduled for Tuesday, with polling stations closing at 6 p.m. local time. Kentucky spans two time zones, with 79 counties in the Eastern time zone and 41 counties in the Central time zone, closing an hour later at 7 p.m. ET.

What races are covered in addition to the governorship?

In addition to the gubernatorial race, coverage

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