Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear spoke about his family’s roots in west Kentucky and his visions for the area during his Paducah stop in his statewide tour this week.
Beshear is the son of former Governor Steve Beshear and has served as Attorney General since 2016. He announced his campaign for Governor on Monday with running mate, public school teacher and basketball coach, Jacqueline Coleman.
Beshear’s Vision For West Kentucky
Beshear said it’s no coincidence that he chose to bring his campaign to west Kentucky during their second day of touring.
“My family has deep roots in Dawson Springs and Hopkins County, and we will be spending the entire day spreading the vision and our message in western Kentucky,” Beshear said.
He said that vision includes improving public schools, addressing the opioid epidemic and creating jobs. He spoke briefly about how meth addiction has hurt the region and his many lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that he alleges helped perpetuate the opioid epidemic.
“We will continue to hold these distributors and manufacturers of opioids accountable,” Beshear said. “That’s why we filed one of our lawsuits right here in McCracken County, so you can go down to that courthouse and demand that company explain its actions to you.”
In April, Beshear’s office filed a lawsuit in McCracken Circuit Court against Johnson & Johnson, its Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Ortho-McNeil subsidiaries.
Public Education Platform
Standing on the steps of Paducah Tilghman High School, Beshear spoke about the importance of public education to his campaign.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, your kids go to the same public school,” Beshear said. “We will work to fund every public school and public university to ensure that every Kentucky child has true opportunity.”
Beshear’s push to support public education is shared by his running mate Coleman, who spoke about the potential state takeover of Jefferson County Public Schools.
“As I stand here today, Kentucky’s largest public school system faces a hostile takeover,” Coleman said. “And while Louisville may seem a world away, if you think they will stop there, you’re wrong. This is simply the first step of the Bevin administration’s attempt to dismantle public education across Kentucky.”
Interim commissioner of education Wayne Lewis released an audit in April recommending that the state take over Louisville’s public school system. He said that the district has “deep-seated organization and cultural challenges.”
She expressed her excitement about the number of teachers running for office this year. She said she and Beshear plan to uplift teachers and public workers, who they say have been disrespected by Bevin during his time in office.
Coleman has taught and coached at Burgin High School, East Jessamine High School and Nelson County High School.
Fancy Farm Picnic
Beshear said he will be speaking to a Fancy Farm crowd in August about his plan to restore “honesty and decency to government” if he is elected governor. He said he believes Bevin’s administration has been divisive.
“One of the things I want to do as governor is bring people together,” Beshear said. “But that is hard when is an administration engages in name calling and bullying...and instead of leadership, they take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.”
Beshear has sued Bevin eight times since taking office in 2016. The Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County is a stump-style political event known for barbecue and a spirited atmosphere. Bevin is an invited speaker at this year’s picnic. He has not announced if he will run for reelection in 2019.
Creating term limits for legislators is long overdue, according to Beshear. He said there are both good and bad legislators that get entrenched into serving too long.
“Those that the lack of term limits keeps them from doing the right thing because it’s the right thing,” Beshear said. “We need term limits so people aren’t looking at the next election and will actually look hard at issues, like expanding gaming to an effort to provide a revenue stream to our ailing pension system.”
Expanding gambling, like allowing casinos to open, was proposed by lawmakers this past legislative session. Coleman said they plan to keep revenue options open in an effort to keep tax dollars in Kentucky.
Beshear also stopped by Owensboro and Bowling Green during his tour of west Kentucky.