Gov. Andy Beshear has endorsed Amy McGrath in her race against Mitch McConnell during Kentucky’s race for U.S. Senate this year.
The endorsement isn’t a surprise—Beshear and McGrath are both Democrats—but does put Beshear at odds with McConnell, the senate majority leader, as he tries to seek more federal assistance for Kentucky during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Beshear wrote that he believes McGrath has the right character and vision to lead the state through crisis.
“Amy McGrath embodies our Kentucky values of family, faith, service and caring for our neighbors, and I know those values will drive everything she does in Washington,” Beshear wrote. “She will fight for our teachers, protect Kentuckians’ pensions, and work for Kentucky families. I’m proud to endorse her as the next U.S. Senator from Kentucky.”
Up until this point, Beshear has avoided weighing in on the senate race and did not provide an endorsement during this year’s primary election.
McGrath won that race by about three percentage points after a late surge by state Rep. Charles Booker, who galvanized progressive voters amid protests over racial injustice and police violence.
In a statement, McGrath wrote that she admires Beshear’s strength during “this extraordinarily challenging period in Kentucky’s history.”
“He is guided by his compassion for all his fellow Kentuckians—rural and urban, Democrat and Republican, old and young—and that makes him exactly the kind of leader we need to meet this moment. I’m honored to have his endorsement,” McGrath wrote.
Democrats hope that Beshear’s successful campaign for governor last year provides a road map for future statewide victories in Kentucky, which has become an increasingly Republican state in recent years.
Beshear defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin by about 5,000 votes, racking up votes in Democratic strongholds like Louisville and Lexington, while also netting victories in smaller urban communities like Bowling Green and Northern Kentucky and a handful of rural pockets around the state.
First elected in 1984, McConnell is running for his seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden wrote that Beshear’s endorsement comes as no surprise.
“Especially because his former staffers are running the super PAC endorsed by the McGrath campaign. The real question is, why did it take Amy McGrath being the only Democrat in the race to secure the governor’s endorsement?” Golden wrote.
Beshear’s former campaign manager Eric Hyers is running one of the super PACs spending money on Kentucky’s race, Fire Mitch Save America.
One of the PACs supporting McConnell’s campaign is the Senate Leadership Fund, which is directed by U.S Postal Service Board chairman Robert Duncan. USPS leaders have faced scrutiny as cutbacks have been implemented while the nation expects to record mail-in voting this November.