(CNN) — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear will win reelection to a second term in Kentucky, CNN projects, defeating Republican Daniel Cameron in a deep-red state that Donald Trump carried by about 25 points in 2020.
Beshear, one of the nation’s most popular governors and the only Democrat in statewide elected office in Kentucky, made abortion a major issue in his campaign. His reelection bid served as a critical test of how the fight over abortion rights since the overturning of Roe v. Wade will shape the political landscape ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
While abortion is illegal in most cases in the Bluegrass State, Kentucky voters rejected a proposal last year to amend the state’s constitution to say that it does not “secure or protect a right” to abortion or the funding of abortion. Beshear attacked Cameron, the state attorney general, over his support for the state’s current law, which bans the procedure in all cases, except when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. The law does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The issue drew national attention this fall when the Beshear campaign released an ad in which 21-year-old Hadley Duvall called out Cameron for failing to support exemptions to Kentucky’s abortion ban for cases of rape and incest, while recounting the trauma of being raped by her stepfather.
“This is to you, Daniel Cameron,” she says in the ad, looking directly into a camera. “To tell a 12-year-old girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable.”
Democrats also worked to tie Cameron to Beshear’s predecessor, Republican Matt Bevin, on issues such as education and health care. Republicans, in turn, tried to nationalize the race by tying the governor to President Joe Biden and emphasizing Trump’s endorsement of Cameron.
Beshear, whose father was Kentucky governor for two terms, previously served as state attorney general before winning a narrow victory over Bevin in 2019. His first term has been marked by countless clashes with the GOP-controlled state legislature over education, public assistance and tax policy, among other things. With Republicans holding veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers, those clashes are likely to continue.
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