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Steven Beshear


Incumbent
Assumed office 
December 11, 2007
Lieutenant Daniel Mongiardo
Preceded by Ernie Fletcher

In office
1983 – 1987
Governor Martha Layne Collins
Preceded by Martha Layne Collins
Succeeded by Brereton C. Jones

In office
1980 – 1983
Governor John Y. Brown, Jr.
Preceded by Robert F. Stephens
Succeeded by David L. Armstrong

Born September 21, 1944 (1944-09-21) (age 65)
Dawson Springs, Kentucky
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jane Beshear
Residence Lexington, Kentucky
Alma mater University of Kentucky
Profession Lawyer
Religion Disciples of Christ

Steven Lynn "Steve" Beshear (born September 21, 1944) is an American politician who has been the 61st and current Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 2007. A Democrat, Beshear previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives; he was also the state's Attorney General from 1980 to 1983 and Lieutenant Governor from 1983 to 1987.

Contents

Early life

Steve Beshear was born September 21, 1944 in Dawson Springs, Kentucky and graduated from Dawson Springs High School.[1] He attended the University of Kentucky, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity.[2] He graduated from UK with a B.A. in 1966 and earned a law degree there in 1968.[1]

Beshear and his wife, Jane, were married in 1969. They have two sons, Jeff and Andy, and one grandson, Nicholas.[3]

Early political career

State Representative

Beshear was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives to begin his political career. He was elected as State Representative for the 76th Legislative District in 1973, winning the Democratic primary by a large margin. Beshear won the general election, garnering 3,401 votes to his Republican opponent's 2,083.[4] Beshear was re-elected by winning the 1975 Democratic primary against Jerry Lundergan, who later was elected to the Kentucky House and became Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, prevailing by about 200 votes.[5][6] Beshear defeated Lundergan again by 400 votes in the 1977 primary, and won the general election easily over an independent challenger.[7]

Attorney General

Beshear declined to run for re-election to the state House of Representatives in 1979 and instead ran for Kentucky Attorney General. Beshear prevailed in the Democratic primary and was elected as Attorney General of Kentucky in 1979, defeating Republican nominee Ron Snyder with 471,177 votes to Snyder's 302,951, and Beshear served as Attorney General from 1980 to 1983.[8]

Lieutenant Governor

Statewide officeholders were barred from running for re-election at that time (this did not change until the passage of a 1992 amendment to the Kentucky Constitution). Beshear chose to run for election as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, which was then a separately elected office whose powers would be greatly diminished by the 1992 constitutional amendment. Beshear prevailed over six other candidates in the 1983 Democratic primary, defeating among others Todd Hollenbach, father of the current Kentucky State Treasurer, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts George L. Atkins, and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Alben Barkley II, grandson of the former Vice President and U.S. Senate Majority Leader.[9] Beshear won 183,662 votes out of 575,022 cast in the Democratic primary that year.[10] In the 1983 general election, Beshear was elected as Lieutenant Governor on a Democratic ticket headed by Martha Layne Collins. Beshear defeated Eugene P. Stuart, the running mate of Jim Bunning, with 568,869 votes to 321,352, with an independent candidate capturing a scattering of votes.[11]

Under the provisions of Kentucky's 1891 Constitution (since changed by the same 1992 Constitutional amendment), the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky assumed the office of Governor anytime the Governor left the state, among other instances such as resignation, impeachment, or death. Beshear assumed control of emergency response and activated the Kentucky National Guard in February 1985 during a severe winter storm that crippled the state and forced the closure of the University of Louisville, the first such winter storm emergency in Kentucky since 1978.[12] Through the end of February 1985, fifteen months into his term, Beshear had served 2021.5 hours as Acting Governor of Kentucky, which gave him the ability to exercise all gubernatorial powers each time that Governor Collins traveled outside the Commonwealth. Beshear criticized the provisions that allowed him to become Acting Governor as "archaic."[13]. At that point, Beshear had served as Acting Governor for parts of or all of 135 days during the first fifteen months of the Collins Administration.[14]

During his service as Lieutenant Governor, Beshear took time to advocate on behalf of many causes. Both Governor Collins and Beshear were strongly supportive of District of Columbia voting rights. Beshear promised Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry that they favored an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow residents of the District of Columbia full representation in the United States Congress and Beshear promised Mayor Barry that he would lobby for ratification of the amendment in the Kentucky House of Representatives.[15]

Campaigns for Governor (1983) and United States Senate (1996)

By July 1985, Beshear began to take the initial steps towards a gubernatorial candidacy by setting up the "Friends of Steve Beshear" campaign committee to raise funds for a candidacy for Governor of Kentucky in 1987.[16] Beshear was once again term-limited and thus ineligible to run for re-election as Lieutenant Governor. By July of 1986, Beshear had been able to raise over $740,000 for the 1987 race.[17] Early in the campaign, Beshear received the endorsements of former U.S. Senator Walter D. Huddleston, Jefferson County Judge-Executive Harvey Sloane, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, and State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Joe Prather, who dropped out to endorse Beshear.[18][19][20] The Kentucky Education Association also endorsed Beshear in the Democratic primary.[21] Beshear was financially supported by proponents of horse racing during this campaign, including Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt.[22]

Beshear (in yellow) finished in third place in the 1987 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, with support concentrated largely in his native Pennyrile region and in Southeastern Kentucky. (Kentucky Secretary of State)

Beshear employed Democratic strategists David Doak and Bob Shrum to assist him with his campaign. Beshear and former Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. waged a vicious campaign against each other, with Beshear attacking Brown for his opulent lifestyle and his "wild nights in Vegas." The attacks backfired on Beshear, who was accused by Brown of distorting reality and of being untrustworthy.[23] A poll released on March 15, 1987 showed Brown ahead of Beshear and three other major candidates, with Brown leading Beshear 35% to 17%.[24] In early April, Beshear's opponent, former Governor Julian Carroll called upon Beshear to drop out of the race, demanding that Beshear "face up to the reality" that he could not win the Democratic primary for Governor and defeat Brown.[25] Beshear and Brown's attacks on one another allowed Wallace Wilkinson, a political newcomer, to cast himself above the fray and Wilkinson was able to surge late in the campaign, promising not to raise taxes and to enact a state lottery.[26][27] Beshear won 114,439 votes in the primary, good for a third place finish with 18% of the vote behind Brown's 163,204 votes or 26%, and 221,138 votes, or 35% garnered by Wilkinson, who went on to win the general election that fall. Beshear placed ahead of former Governor Julian Carroll's 42,137 votes and also defeated Grady Stumbo, who won 84,613 votes, or 14%. Three other candidates combined for an additional 8,187 votes in that primary, all garnering less than one percent of the Democratic primary vote. [26][28] Beshear raised and spent a total of $2.8 million during his 1987 campaign for Governor of Kentucky.[29]

After his defeat in the 1987 election, Beshear practiced law in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1996, Beshear heavily defeated former Congressman Tom Barlow and another candidate to gain the Democratic nomination against incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.[30] Beshear started out trailing against McConnell, with an early general election poll placing McConnell ahead of Beshear 50% to 32%.[31] The campaign ultimately became quite harsh, with the McConnell campaign sending "Hunt Man," a take off of Chicken George dressed in "the red velvet coat, jodhpurs, black riding boots and black helmet of a patrician fox hunter." This was done as a means of criticizing Beshear's membership in a fox hunting club in Lexington, and undercut the Beshear campaign's message that McConnell was a Republican in the mold of Newt Gingrich and that Beshear was the only friend of the working class in the race. [32] Beshear did not make much traction with the electorate during the campaign. By October 1996, Beshear had narrowed the gap between himself and McConnell slightly, with McConnell leading Beshear 50% to 38%.[33] Beshear lost the election to McConnell. [34]

Beshear's name was floated for a potential candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Senator and Minority Whip Wendell Ford in the United States Senate in 1998, but Beshear declined to become a candidate.[35]

2007 Campaign for Governor

After Beshear won the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2007, his campaign was attacked by the Republican Party of Kentucky for his proposal for expanded gaming in the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher was regarded as being vulnerable to defeat due to his indictment by a grand jury while being investigated by the office of Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo; the charges were related to the Fletcher administration implementing a "widespread and coordinated" plan to violate the state's merit system hiring laws.[36] Following the announcement of U.S. Representative Ben Chandler, the Democrats' 2003 nominee for governor, shortly after the 2006 midterm elections that he would stay in Congress and not contest the governorship a second time, the Democratic primary field in 2007 was wide open. Beshear had been involved in persuading Chandler to run against Fletcher again, but following Chandler's decision, Beshear told the Courier-Journal that he was "actively considering" launching a campaign for Governor.[37] In December 2006, Beshear indicated that he and State Senator Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard would make a joint statement "concerning the governor's race." The Beshear-Mongiardo ticket was the first major Democratic ticket to form for the 2007 gubernatorial election.[38] Beshear chose Pikeville native Jim Cauley, who had managed Barack Obama's successful Illinois U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 to be the manager of his second campaign for Governor.[39]

Beshear campaigned on a platform to enact expanded gaming legislation and to not raise taxes, a platform remarkably similar to that of the man to whom he lost the Democratic nomination for Governor twenty years before.[40] Beshear stated that he was confident that most Kentuckians would back his proposal for a constitutional amendment allowing for casinos at racetracks in Kentucky as well as a few freestanding casinos across Kentucky. Beshear indicated that his proposals would create half a billion dollars in new revenue for Kentucky.[41]

Beshear was attacked by his Democratic opponents during the 2007 primary. Attorney General Stumbo, candidate for Lieutenant Governor on the slate of millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford, attacked Beshear for being a lobbyist for the payday loan industry, stating that Beshear had "sold out" and had "forgot the obligation he had to protect our state's most vulnerable citizens."[42] Kentucky House Speaker Jody Richards, former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry and Lunsford all attacked Beshear for his pledge to expand gaming in Kentucky, with Richards noting that in order to gain passage of such an amendment, 20 of 38 senators in the Republican controlled Kentucky Senate, led by Senate President David L. Williams, a staunch opponent of expanded gaming, would need to vote to pass the amendment.[43] Lunsford stated that deciding the state's future spending based on a speculative revenue proposal was unwise.[44] Beshear responded that the concerns of Richards, Henry, and Lunsford was "a comment on their leadership ability."[43]

After beginning to fall in the polls, State Treasurer Jonathan Miller endorsed Beshear in early May 2007. Miller indicated that he was endorsing Beshear in order to prevent an "unelectable" candidate from becoming the Democratic Party's nominee for the fall campaign.[45] Immediately before the primary, most other campaigns were predicting that Beshear would finish in first place, with the main strategy of the other candidates being to stop Beshear from getting the forty percent of the vote required to avoid a runoff election on June 26, 2007 and to get into second place.[46]. Beshear won the primary, finishing with 40.9 percent of the vote to Lunsford's 21.4%, Henry's 17.4% and Richards' 13%.[47] Shortly after becoming the nominee, Beshear replaced Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, his opponent from his time as a state legislator, with state treasurer Jonathan Miller.[48]

Beshear attacked Fletcher because of a supposed financial shortfall which ended up being a $2 billion dollar increase in state revenue.[49] On November 6, 2007, Beshear defeated Fletcher by a 59% to 41% margin.[50]

Governor of Kentucky

On December 11, 2007, Beshear was sworn in as Kentucky's 61st governor by Kentucky Supreme Court Associate Justice Bill Cunningham in a private ceremony in the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort. Beshear received the oath of office again during a public ceremony on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol later that afternoon. The oath of office was administered during the public ceremony by Associate Justice Mary C. Noble.

Initiatives

Casino gaming

Attempting to fulfill a major campaign plank, on February 15, 2008, Beshear unveiled legislation that would allow casino gambling in Kentucky, which he claimed would generate "several hundred millions of dollars" in tax revenue for the state.[51] Beshear stated that "allowing limited expanded gaming in Kentucky will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue every year." Beshear said this at a time when state government was facing a shortfall in revenue.[52] In late February, the Kentucky House of Representative's Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs committee failed to advance two proposals for a constitutional amendment to the full floor of the House of Representatives.[53] After Speaker Jody Richards replaced some members of the relevant committee in March, Beshear and allies again attempted to get the bill through to the full floor. The Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the amendment on the second occasion.[54] The legislation failed to advance in the 2008 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly, and was not called to a vote in the Democratic controlled Kentucky House of Representatives, where 60 votes out of 100 would have been required for passage. Beshear announced that his proposal for a constitutional amendment to allow for casinos was dead for the regular session on March 27, 2008.[55] Despite this proclamation from Beshear, Beshear did not declare defeat. In April 2008, a few days before the session was statutorily set to expire, Governor Beshear made a final push to advance the constitutional amendment into the Republican controlled Kentucky Senate, but to no avail.[40][56] On a "listening tour" through Kentucky in July 2008, Beshear told an audience of four hundred in Pikeville that expanded gaming legislation was not dead and was still a topic on the table.[40]

The initial, organizational session of the 2009 regular session saw change in Frankfort. Speaker Jody Richards was ousted by House Democrats by a three vote margin, in favor of former Majority Leader and Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a race in which it was thought that the Governor had personally interfered on behalf of Stumbo.[57] Expanded gaming legislation was pre-filed for the 2009 regular session. Proponents stated that allowing video lottery terminals at racetracks could raise $500 million for the state budget within three years.[58] Speaker Stumbo is a supporter of allowing VLT's in Kentucky and was a cosponsor of expanded gaming legislation that would have allowed for more gaming opportunities at eight horse tracks in Kentucky, encountering opposition once again from David Williams, President of the Kentucky Senate.[59] Stumbo said that his version of the gaming bill would raise $1.2 billion dollars for the state budget within five years, and indicated that Kentucky's horse racing industry was under assault from other states and that passage of expanded gaming was vital for the state's racing industry to thrive and continue.[60]

Online gaming

Despite his support for casino gambling, Beshear's administration has litigated a lawsuit to seize control of 141 gambling related domains in an attempt to block Kentucky residents from accessing those websites.[61][62][63][64][65]

Energy

In April 2008, Beshear announced plans to reorganize the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet by splitting it into several cabinets, creating among others an Energy and Environmental Cabinet. Beshear announced in a press release that he intended to appoint Leonard Peters, a chemical engineer, to head the new cabinet.[66]

In April 2009, Beshear stated his goal that "Kentucky can and Kentucky will become the energy capital of this nation" when announcing a partnership between the Commonwealth, the University of Kentucky, and utilities to study ways to capture carbon dioxide from coal consuming power plants to reduce their impact on global warming.[67]

The Governor has been a consistent advocate for diversifying Kentucky's energy resources, and as part of that plan, he has supported the issue of nuclear power. Yet, in March 2009, it was reported that Beshear was at odds over Kentucky's energy future with a top leader of his own party, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins. [68]

Emergency Response

In September 2008, Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency as the remnants of Hurricane Ike passed over Kentucky, knocking out power to thousands. [69] Beshear issued the emergency call after reports of price gouging began to emerge in the Louisville area. By declaring an emergency, Beshear was able to activate a Kentucky law against price gouging during times of crisis. [70] Almost a week after the storm, 120,000 Kentuckians were still without power, and Governor Beshear asked President George W. Bush for a federal disaster declaration, qualifying state government for partial reimbursement of expenses. Beshear at the time stated that the storm was "the worst of its kind on record in Kentucky." [71]

On January 27, 2009, Governor Beshear declared an emergency as a result of the 2009 ice storm that had catastrophic impact on the Commonwealth.[72] Within 24 hours of the storm hitting Kentucky, 104,000 Kentuckians were without power. [73] Beshear referred to the severe weather event as the "biggest disaster this state has seen in modern times" and announced the activation of "virtually the entire Kentucky National Guard."[74]. By January 29, 150,000 Kentuckians were without electricity or potable water. President Barack Obama approved Beshear's request for a federal disaster declaration. Response was complicated as the Kentucky National Guard distributed packaged, prepared meals to hungry residents. Many of the first meals delivered, prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contained peanut butter and had to be recalled due to the salmonella scandal involving American peanut production at the time. Beshear allayed fears by stating that he ate some of the peanut butter and didn't become ill. Beshear discussed response to the ice storm at length in his 2009 State of the Commonwealth address. Beshear's staff stated in early February 2009 that the storm did more than $50 million worth of damage to the Commonwealth.[75]

Christmas Tree Controversy

According to the Associated Press, in late 2009 Gov. Beshear decided that the Christmas tree on the lawn of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort should instead be officially designated a "holiday" tree.[76] Hearing this, the American Family Association alerted conservatives in the Bluegrass State, asking its e-mail list to call and e-mail Governor Beshear. Within days, phone calls and e-mails flooded the governor's office, and Beshear reversed his decision.[77] As a result, the governor issued a statement shortly thereafter saying the tree would again be referred to by the governor's office as a "Christmas" tree.

2011 Campaign for Governor

On July 19, 2009, Beshear announced that Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson would be his running mate in his re-election campaign in 2011.[78]

References

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  2. ^ http://www.delts.org/about/famousdelts.html
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  5. ^ Kentucky Secretary of State. 1975 Election Results for the Kentucky House of Representatives.
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  7. ^ Kentucky Secretary of State. 1977 Election Results for the Kentucky House of Representatives.
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  10. ^ Kentucky Secretary of State. 1983 Primary Election Results for Lieutenant Governor
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  37. ^ Loftus, Tom and Elisabeth J. Beardsley (December 1, 2006). "Democrats eye race for Governor". Courier-Journal. http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061201/NEWS0104/612010363/1008/NEWS01.  
  38. ^ Alessi, Ryan (December 9, 2006). "Jones declines Governor's Race; Beshear, Mongiardo to make statement". Lexington Herald-Leader. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-28868295_ITM.  
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  42. ^ YouTube - Greg Stumbo on Steve Beshear
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  75. ^ Urbina, Ian (February 5, 2009). "Storm Disaster is Declared in Kentucky". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/us/06ice.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=%22steve%20beshear%22&st=cse.  
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  78. ^ Gerth, Joseph (2009-07-19). "Abramson to be Beshear's running mate in 2011". The Courier-Journal. http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090719/NEWS01/907190334/-1/NLETTER05/Abramson+to+be+Beshear+s+running+mate+in+2011?source=nletter-breakingnews. Retrieved 2009-07-20.  

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Stephens
Attorney General of Kentucky
1980–1984
Succeeded by
David L. Armstrong
Political offices
Preceded by
Martha Layne Collins
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
1984–1988
Succeeded by
Brereton C. Jones
Preceded by
Ernie Fletcher
Governor of Kentucky
2007–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Martha Layne Collins
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
1983
Succeeded by
Brereton C. Jones
Preceded by
Harvey I. Sloane
Democratic nominee for United States Senate (Class 2) from Kentucky
1996
Succeeded by
Lois Combs Weinberg
Preceded by
Ben Chandler
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kentucky
2007
Succeeded by
Most recent







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