LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the Republican nominee for governor, sat down with Kentucky Today to talk about his campaign to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear.
Cameron explained why he decided to run for governor when he likely could have easily run for re-election to his current job.
"I think, in many ways, this was a moment and an opportunity to stand up for the values of our citizens. Yes, it certainly would have been easier to run for a second term, but I fully believe we have a responsibility to stand up and offer a conservative, common-sense agenda and vision for this state that is in contrast to what Andy Beshear has done," Cameron said.
"For instance, you will never see me standing with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. You'll never see me vetoing legislation to protect our kids from transgender surgeries. You'll never see me vetoing legislation that would have stopped men from playing on women's sports."
The transgender controversy has been a major flashpoint of the campaign with both sides running ads accusing the other of lying about the issue.
Cameron points to Beshear's veto of SB 150, the sweeping measure that, among other things, bans transgender procedures minors. The governor's veto was later overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature.
"It is important that you have a governor who is going to do everything they can to make sure that we don't rob our children of the innocence of youth, that we don't rob them of their childhood. And, unfortunately, what we have seen from Andy Beshear is the exact opposite," said Cameron.
"Rather than stand up for our parents and our families, he's vetoed the legislation that would have protected our kids from these irreversible procedures. This is an issue of protecting the family unit."
Cameron has also made his pro-life views well known. But he says his campaign is about more than hot-button social issues. He has also promised to be a law enforcement governor and has been endorsed by the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.
"We have in many ways hampered the ability of law enforcement to do its job," said Cameron.
Beyond supporting police, Cameron said he understands the rise in violence can be traced, in part, to the breakdown of families.
"We see there's a spiritual battle occurring in this country. There is no doubt about that," he said. "That spiritual battle is attacking the family, and it is attacking our communities. I think it's important for a governor to be in the position of protecting the family unit."
Cameron says education is another of his priorities. He supports school choice, including options for religious schools. But at the same time Cameron said he wants to bolster public education -- and public-school teachers -- still recovering from the Covid shutdown.
"I've made no bones about it. I want to make sure we have a world-class public education system - one in which our schools are about reading, writing and math, and they're not incubators for liberal and progressive ideas," Cameron said. "In fact, it's why we recently unveiled the Cameron Catch-up Plan. This is, in many ways, a transformative plan. It's one in which we make up for and catch our kids up because of the learning loss they experienced for nearly two years because of the short-sided decisions that Andy Beshear made."
But Cameron knows many teachers are skeptical considering the often-heated rhetoric between teachers and Republican officials, including former Gov. Matt Bevin, over pension reform and other education issues.
"I know there might be some teachers, some public educators that may have some misgivings about any Republican nominee for governor. I think it's important that, if I'm going to talk about this issue, that I do it from a spirit of humility," said Cameron, whose wife Makenzie is a former public-school teacher.
"And so, to any teacher that might be watching or listening to this conversation, I want them to know that I apologize for any of those comments that might have given them misgivings about the Republican Party. But I'm committed to making sure every teacher knows that this party, under my leadership, is going to offer ideas and positive solutions for the future that includes making sure that we're standing up for our hard-working public educators."
Beshear is running on an economy that he says is "on fire" - with thousands of new jobs, low unemployment, and improvements to infrastructure. But Cameron said it is the Republican legislature that deserves the credit.
"I know he likes to take credit for things that our General Assembly has done, but if Andy Beshear would have had his way, none of those things would have passed and therefore we would not have seen some of the movement in the right direction as it relates to economics and commerce here in Kentucky," he said.
When asked why Kentucky Baptists should support him, Cameron again referred to a spiritual battle.
"I think, for too long, we have sat on the sidelines as those that have different values or beliefs have entered into the marketplace of ideas. It's one of the reasons, I think, we've seen some decaying of the family unit, some decaying of our values," he said.
"I think it's important for Kentucky Baptists to get out in great numbers to say that we are in this - that we are engaged in this great struggle - that we want to protect our families and we believe that it's OK, in fact, we're proud to say the name of Jesus Christ without any shame. And we're going to bring that to the marketplace of ideas. We're going to bring those values. We're going to bring the Bible to the marketplace of ideas.
"This isn't about me or you as much as it is about our kids and grandkids and making sure we leave this commonwealth in better hands - in a better place than we found it -- one in which faith is strong. One in which belief in Christ is strong - and that's how I intend to lead."
Kentuckians will have their say in less than two months. Election Day is Nov. 7.