Elections

Daniel Cameron elected Kentucky attorney general, says he will ‘work with whomever’

Kentucky voters on Tuesday picked as their next attorney general Daniel Cameron, a young protégé of U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who pledged his support for the conservative policies of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, the GOP-led General Assembly and President Donald Trump, who endorsed him.

But in his victory speech, Cameron left the door open for working cooperatively with a Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear if that’s how Kentucky’s very close governor’s race turns out.

“We’re gonna get back to the bread-and-butter basics of being the state’s top law enforcement officer,” Cameron said. “We have a responsibility in the coming days to work with whomever, whether you have a Republican designation by your name or a Democratic designation.”

Cameron, a 33-year-old native of Hardin County, campaigned on his opposition to abortion, gun control and illegal immigration.

He also vowed to break with the practice of Beshear, the outgoing attorney general, who sometimes challenged Bevin and the legislature in court, and who refused to defend certain laws — notably, abortion restrictions — when he believed they were unconstitutional. The role of the attorney general is to serve as Kentucky’s attorney, Cameron said.

“I won’t substitute my policy positions for the judgments of the legislature,” Cameron said.

Cameron will be Kentucky’s first independently elected statewide official who is black. Outgoing Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, who also is black, ran on the GOP ticket four years ago with Bevin.

In interviews, Cameron said he hesitated to make too much out of the subject of race. But he acknowledged the historic nature of his bid in a television commercial called “Lincoln.”

“I grew up in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln just a few miles from his birthplace,” Cameron said in the ad. “It was hard to imagine a little boy who looked like me would some day help a president confirm a Supreme Court justice or even run for attorney general. But here we are.”

Cameron defeated Greg Stumbo, 68, a former Democratic attorney general and Kentucky House speaker who was attempting a comeback after losing his legislative seat in 2016. Cameron battered Stumbo in a series of attack ads, including one that said Stumbo wants to help “illegals ... pour over the border” and sell “Mexican meth” on the streets of Kentucky.

This was Cameron’s first run for elected office, but he’s hardly new to politics.

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Republican attorney general candidate Daniel Cameron took to the podium at Rupp Arena prior to the arrival of United States President Donald Trump, who planned to stump for governor Matt Bevin’s reelection, on November 04, 2019. Marcus Dorsey mdorsey@herald-leader.com

Cameron was legal counsel for McConnell, Kentucky’s Republican godfather, from 2015 to 2017. Among his Senate duties was helping McConnell select nominees for federal judicial appointments. Later, Cameron left Washington to become a private lawyer and lobbyist in Louisville with the firm of Frost Brown Todd.

Cameron touted his alliance with the Trump administration and the federal resources he could bring to bear on Kentucky’s drug addiction scourge. The Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police endorsed him, he noted.

“The time I spent working with our law enforcement community when I was Senator McConnell’s general counsel gave me the breadth of relationships,” Cameron said in a recent interview, “helping them confront what I, in many ways, think has become the public safety challenge of our lifetime, the drug epidemic. I was very proud to bring in some additional dollars through the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help with our drug interdiction efforts.”

Attorney General

  • Daniel Cameron 825,814
  • Gregory D. Stumbo 604.400

(100% reporting)

John Cheves is a government accountability reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader. He joined the newspaper in 1997 and previously worked in its Washington and Frankfort bureaus and covered the courthouse beat.
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