It’s easy to look at Andy Beshear’s gubernatorial campaign announcement as the next round of his effort to avenge Gov. Matt Bevin’s attacks on his mother and father, but the fact is that we’re a long way from that.
A long, long way.
That’s because Beshear will likely first have to rekindle an old family feud with Alison Lundergan Grimes before he even has a shot at Bevin, who hasn’t announced he’s seeking re-election but is expected to do so.
The Hatfields and McCoys have nothing on the Beshears and Lundergans, who have warred for more than 40 years, ever since Jerry Lundergan, Grimes’ father, tried to unseat Steve Beshear, Andy’s dad, from the state House in the 1970s.
If the Lundergan dislike of the Beshears is long-held, Bevin’s is more intense.
And if Bevin wasn’t planning on running before Beshear’s announcement on Monday, he most certainly would look forward to a chance to slap down Beshear on Election Day — in a way he hasn’t been able to slap him down in court, where Beshear has dominated legal battles over past two and a half years.
But again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
This is about the 2019 Democratic primary and the jockeying that began months ago, but will undoubtedly intensify now that Beshear has committed to running.
But who else is going to get in?
The success of women in the #metoo era will certainly make the race seem more enticing to Grimes, who has been eyeing the race ever since she raised $19 million in a losing effort to oust U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.
Word is she won’t announce she’s running until after the 2018 elections so as not to make it more difficult for Democrats running in state legislative and U.S. House races to raise money. She can delay her entry because of her national big money contacts and because her father, a former state Democratic chairman, is a prolific fundraiser.
And then there is state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, who wants badly to run and has interviewed at least one lieutenant governor candidate. It’s difficult for him to announce that he’s running now, however, because Democrats are trying to take over the House in November’s elections.
He’s got to be on the campaign trail for them.
Also a possibility is former Auditor Adam Edelen, who was once the Democrats’ golden boy until he took a bad beat at the hands of Mike Harmon in his 2015 reelection effort. It’s hard to imagine where he’ll get the money to run.
Most intriguing could be state Rep. Attica Scott, an outsider who could squeak through a crowded primary if she’s able to tap national campaign donations, and it would be huge fun to watch her try to take down the state’s largely white good ol’ boy system.
But right now, all eyes are on a potential Bevin-Beshear matchup.
You know Bevin, the guy who has dismantled former Steve Beshear’s signature accomplishment — the state’s health care cooperative — and with a stroke of a pen has ended dental care and eye care for nearly a halfmillion Kentuckians.
Oh, yeah, and he’s the guy who tossed Jane Beshear, Andy Beshear’s mother, off the Kentucky Horse Park Commission. He also, in an amazingly petty move, stripped her name from an educational building on the state Capitol grounds.
He’s also the guy who has belittled the former governor’s son as “Little Andy” and called him all kinds of names after Beshear has challenged Bevin on a number of things ranging from the University of Louisville board of trustees to the Republican overhaul of Kentucky’s pension systems.
Beshear has usually won in the courts, with Bevin prevailing only after the Republican state legislature has gone in after him and changed the law to make Beshear’s challenges moot.
On Monday, Bevin went after the old man and the son, tweeting out, “For those Kentuckians who did not get enough corruption, self-dealing, embezzlement and bribery during the 8 corrupt years of Governor Steve Beshear, his son, Andy, is now offering a chance for 4 more years of the same.”
Now, read that closely. The guy who got a huge discount on a multi-million dollar mansion when he bought it from someone he has appointed to a powerful position is warning of future corruption.
For his part, Beshear took a few shots at Bevin during his announcement. “Instead of leadership, we see name calling and bullying,” Beshear said. “Instead of working together, our government says, “My way or the highway.”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Joseph Gerth is a political columnist for the Courier Journal of Louisville.