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Beshear continues to outpace Cameron in fundraising for Ky. governor’s race

 Andy Beshear at the Fancy Farm political speaking event in 2023.
Hannah Saad
Andy Beshear at the Fancy Farm political speaking event in 2023.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear continues to out-raise and out-spend his Republican opponent Attorney General Daniel Cameron, according to recent campaign finance filings. Super PACs have also raised millions of dollars for the race, running their own ads ahead of the November election.

With less than a month to Election Day, recent campaign finance reports are one of the last snapshots into the funds candidates are raising ahead of Kentucky’s gubernatorial election. The contest between Beshear and Cameron is already shaping up to be one of the most expensive in the state’s history for the governor’s office.

In the 30-day period covered in the reports stretching back to Sept. 9, Beshear raised just shy of $1.5 million. Over the same period, Cameron raised about $530,000. This most recent fundraising report mirrors previous data, which shows Cameron significantly underperforming in contributions compared to Beshear.

Since he won the Democratic nomination in May, Beshear has raised about $10.5 million. That’s on top of the nearly $6 million he rolled over from his uncontested primary campaign. Meanwhile, Cameron has only garnered $3.4 million since the primaries. Cameron also faced a highly competitive GOP primary and had far less cash to move toward the general election with about $15,500.

These total do not include “in-kind” contributions which are goods, advertising or services provided without charge or at a lower rate to the candidate. Both candidates received significant in-kind donations, largely from their respective parties' executive committees. Cameron received roughly $484,000 in in-kind contributions and Beshear secured over $1.9 million.

Beshear’s campaign manager Eric Hyers said the recent report reflects “sky-high enthusiasm for the governor.”

“As we head into the final weeks, we will keep out-raising and out-working Daniel Cameron so that Kentuckians continue to have a governor who cares about them,” Hyers said in a statement.

Sean Southard, a spokesperson for Cameron, said in a statement that Cameron’s campaign still has the resources to win the election.

“Andy Beshear is bankrolled by Joe Biden. We are running an aggressive campaign around the state. This fall, Kentuckians will retire the Beshear family once and for all,” he said.

Southard is likely referring to a $250,000 contribution the Biden Victory Fund made earlier this year to the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Other big spenders

The huge sums rolling directly into the candidates’ hands is just a fraction of the money actually being spent on the campaign. Independent super PACs havespent millions advertising for both candidates since May. Super PACs are barred from coordination with campaigns, but their efforts are key in understanding and tracking influence in political races.

According to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, five of the most moneyed PACs created to support one of the candidates in the state’s gubernatorial election have raised a total of $24.5 million since the beginning of 2023.

For example, one of the main super PACs supporting Cameron is Kentucky Values, which is bankrolled in part by the Republican Governors Association. Since the start of the year, Kentucky Values has raised $9.5 million — that’s almost triple what Cameron has raised directly for his campaign. With a month to go into the election, the group has already spent $9.1 million of those funds.

One of the largest PACs supporting Beshear is Defending Bluegrass Values, which is largely funded by the Democratic Governors Association. The group has raised $12 million this year, adding significantly to Beshear’s fundraising efforts.

TV and radio ad spending in the general election has already surpassed $40 million, according to ad tracking firm Medium Buying. And the vast majority of that spending is not coming from candidates, but from PACs.

Kentucky Values recently debuted an anti-Beshear ad attempting to tie the current governor to President Joe Biden.

The Protect Freedom PAC, which is connected with Sen. Rand Paul, has also thrown its considerable financial weight behind Cameron and has run ads featuring Paul attacking Beshear’s policies. The ad primarily focused on Beshear’s veto of anti-transgender youth bills.

Anti-Cameron ads run by Defending Bluegrass Values have also flooded Kentucky airwaves, attacking Cameron’s stance on things like education and Medicare.

Information on donors

Within the most recent filing period, contributions from individuals made up the vast majority for both candidates. For Beshear, 84% of his cash contributions came from individuals and 88% for Cameron.

Predictably, the majority of both candidates' individual contributors reported living in Kentucky. The next top three states where contributors lived for Beshear were Minnesota, Illinois and Massachusetts in descending order. Cameron’s next top three were Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

A significant portion of Beshear’s funding for the entire general election is still made up of rollover from the primary, which surpasses the whole of Cameron’s funds during the general election thus far.

There is one more campaign finance report deadline before the general election. The last report is due Oct. 25, about two weeks before Kentuckians head to the polls to elect their next governor.

Sylvia is Kentucky Public Radio's Capitol reporter. Email her at
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