|63rd Governor of Kentucky|
|Assumed office |
December 10, 2019
|Preceded by||Matt Bevin|
|50th Attorney General of Kentucky|
January 4, 2016 – December 10, 2019
|Preceded by||Jack Conway|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Cameron|
Andrew Graham Beshear
November 29, 1977
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Relatives||Steve Beshear (father)|
|Education||Vanderbilt University (BA)|
University of Virginia (JD)
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 several times over issues such as health care and pensions, before challenging and defeating Bevin in a close race in 2019.
Beshear was born in Louisville, the son of Steve and Jane (Klingner) Beshear. 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.
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. He represented the developers of the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline, which would have transported natural gas through the state. 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.
Main article: 2015 Kentucky elections § Attorney General
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. He defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield by a margin of 0.2 percent, getting 50.1% of the vote to Westerfield's 49.9%.
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. 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.
In April 2018, Beshear again successfully sued Bevin, this time for signing Senate Bill 151, a controversial plan to reform teacher pensions, with the Kentucky Supreme Court ruling the bill unconstitutional.
By November 2018, Beshear had filed nine lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for their alleged involvement in fueling Kentucky's opioid epidemic.
Beshear joined 15 other attorneys general in December 2018 in opposing the ruling of a Texas judge that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. Beshear said: "for so many families the Affordable Care Act is a matter of life and death."
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 succeeded by Daniel Cameron on December 17, 2019.
Main article: 2019 Kentucky gubernatorial election
On July 9, 2018, Beshear declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Kentucky in the 2019 election. His running mate was Jacqueline Coleman, a nonprofit president, assistant principal, and former state house candidate. In announcing his candidacy, Beshear said he would "make public education a priority." In May 2019, he won the Democratic nomination with 38 percent of the vote in a three-way contest.
Beshear and his campaign focused on local issues specific to Kentucky, such as Medicaid expansion, education funding, and pensions.
The night of the November 5 election, NBC News and other major outlets called Beshear the "apparent winner" over incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin, though the Associated Press called the race "too close to call" with less than half a percent of the vote separating them. Beshear won by 0.37 percentage points, getting 49.20% of the vote to Bevin's 48.83%. Days later, Bevin had not conceded the race, claiming large-scale voting "irregularities" but not offering evidence. However, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' office declared Beshear the winner.
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. Ultimately, Beshear won by swamping Bevin in the state's two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, both of which he won with over 60 percent of the vote. He also narrowly carried normally heavily Republican Kenton County in Northern Kentucky. Beshear carried only two of the state's six congressional districts, but those districts were the state's two most urbanized, the Louisville-based 3rd and the Lexington-based 6th.
Beshear was inaugurated as governor at 12:01 p.m. on December 10, 2019. 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. 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.
Beshear began overseeing the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March 2020. 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.
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.
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. 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. Four private schools later filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit against Beshear.
Beshear is seen as a moderate Democrat. Both his social and fiscal beliefs are seen as moderately liberal. 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.
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. Beshear signed an executive order as governor to completely restore the voting rights of those convicted of non-violent felonies.
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. On June 24, 2021, Beshear signed an executive order to allow name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes making Kentucky the first state to do so via executive order.
Beshear supports a major pay raise for all teachers in Kentucky, who earn one of the lowest salaries of any teachers in the country.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
As of June 30, 2020 the Kentucky State Pension Fund is at 58.8% of its obligations for the coming decades.
Governor Beshear supports legal same-sex marriage and was the first sitting Governor of Kentucky to attend an LGBTQ-rights rally. 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. 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. 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. Such bills are criticized as unnecessary because current laws already require all infants to receive proper medical care.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Kentucky
On March 25, 2020, Beshear declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. 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. In November 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Beshear's emergency coronavirus executive orders. 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. 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. On June 11, 2021, Beshear lifted most of Kentucky's COVID-19 restrictions. The day beforehand, the Kentucky Supreme Court once again heard arguments regarding Beshear's emergency powers. In August 2021, Beshear mandated that face masks be worn in public schools, arguing that they were needed to ensure that children could safely be in school.
On August 21, 2021, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against Beshear's challenge of several newly-enacted Kentucky laws which, among other things, limit the governor's authority to issue executive orders in times of emergency to 30 days unless extended by state legislators. The case arose after an injunction was issued by a Kentucky trial court, at the request of Beshear, which halted the implementation of the contested laws. The court's opinion, authored by Justice Lawrence VanMeter, addressed separation-of-powers as between the Governor of Kentucky and the Kentucky General Assembly. The Kentucky Supreme Court found that the challenged laws were valid exercises of the General Assembly's legislative powers and that Beshear's arguments to the contrary were “largely unsupported by sound legal principles.”  The decision came on the heels of a similar ruling on August 19, 2021 from U.S. District Court Judge William Bertlesman who wrote in his opinion "[t]he executive branch cannot simply ignore laws passed by the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Therein lies tyranny." Following his defeat in the Kentucky Supreme Court, on August 23, 2021 Beshear rescinded his executive order requiring masks in Kentucky schools. 
Beshear and his wife Britainy are both members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and serve as deacons. They have two children.
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. In January 2021, the charge against Troutman was dismissed without prejudice.
2015 Kentucky Attorney General Democratic Primary
Beshear ran uncontested.
2015 Kentucky Attorney General Election
Main article: 2015 Kentucky elections
2019 Kentucky Gubernatorial Democratic Primary
2019 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election
Main article: 2019 Kentucky gubernatorial election
|Republican||Matt Bevin (incumbent)||704,388||48.83%|
|Democratic gain from Republican|
|archive-url=value (help). The State Journal. Archived from headlines/2013/07/31/beshear-s-son-representing-controversial-pipeline-company/ the original Check
|url=value (help) on April 11, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told CNN her office declared Beshear winner of governor race.