The Herald-Leader’s endorsement editorial sharing who we believe is best suited to serve as Kentucky’s next governor will publish at 8 a.m. Thursday on kentucky.com and appear in our Sunday print edition.
Our three-person editorial board was diligent in its research. We know much is at stake for our citizens, taxpayers and vitality over these next four years.
We spent time watching and reviewing coverage of the debates between Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear and his Republican opponent, Attorney General Daniel Cameron. We read summaries of position papers and specific strategies the candidates crafted focused on how to move our commonwealth forward. We listened to speeches and read the volumes of stories produced not only by our team, but also other outlets across Kentucky.
I arrived a month ago, but I was tracking the campaign from afar in Northern California (where I was running The Press Democrat newsroom in Sonoma County). I l also spoke often with friends and family members who live and work across the commonwealth. Our two other members, Opinion Page editor and columnist, Linda Blackford, and managing editor Lauren Gorla, have monitored our wall-to-wall coverage for nearly 14 months.
We invited both candidates to speak to our editorial board, and Beshear accepted our invitation for a 60-minute conversation earlier this month. It was enlightening and a healthy exchange of tough questions and responses related to the commonwealth’s future.
Cameron, of course, was invited, too. He passed.
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying on our end. Blackford began inviting Cameron to spend time with our editorial board well before my arrival — starting on Jan. 23. And again on March 6. And again on March 20 and April 6. Plus, several other attempts after the primary, including July 17 and Sept. 21.
Shortly after my Sept. 23 arrival in Lexington, I contacted top Cameron campaign officials to personally invite him to spend time with us. “What better way to formally outline his vision and to go well beyond the flood of TV commercials to address the issues Kentuckians truly care about than spending an hour with our editorial board?” I asked.
I shared our plans to video the conversation and share key passages of Cameron’s visit on our digital site and social media channels, just as we did with Beshear.
I learned Monday — after one final attempt to spend time with Cameron before our editorial was crafted — he wasn’t coming.
I asked Sean Southard, his campaign spokesperson, for a reason. It’s important for me to share with Herald-Leader readers why he refused, repeatedly, to meet with us.
In a Wednesday morning email, I was told: “He will be spending the final days of the campaign in 40 different Kentucky counties. There, he will be able to have direct, fair, and honest conversations about his plans to stand up to Joe Biden, fight inflation, reduce crime and get our kids caught up from the learning loss inflicted on them by Andy Beshear.”
Well-staged campaign appearances and 30-second answers to a moderator’s question during a debate are important moments in any gubernatorial campaign, certainly.
But, so, too, I believe, is an hour-long occasion of fielding relevant, unrehearsed questions from one of Kentucky’s oldest and largest media sites about a candidate’s vision for our commonwealth — especially in a campaign so contentious and significant as this one has been.
I don’t view snubbing our editorial board as a slight to the Herald-Leader. Far from it. Cameron is not the first — and won’t be the last — to avoid questions from our editorial board.
But dodging those questions and the opportunity to both trumpet and defend his record and ambitious plans for Kentucky for the next four years at such a pivotal moment in our commonwealth’s history? That’s just cheating voters and taxpayers, I believe.
And that seems wrong.
Look for our endorsement editorial to publish at 8 a.m. Thursday on kentucky.com. And as always, thanks for reading the Herald-Leader.