The super PAC Bluegrass Freedom Action, which supports Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in the May 16 Republican primary for governor, made history Friday when it launched the first TV ad in American history to tout an endorsement from an indicted former president.
The spot, which represents the first pro-Cameron commercial of the contest, extols the attorney general as “a conservative fighter” who sued President Joe Biden over border security, battled “the companies that fueled the opioid crisis,” and is a “champion for law enforcement.” The narrator goes on to remind the audience that Donald Trump backs Cameron before it turns to a clip of the candidate declaring, “Mr. President, we are going to make sure that Kentucky is never a sanctuary state.” The commercial does not mention any of Cameron’s intra-party opponents or the man they’re all hoping to unseat this fall, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
The ad, which was posted to YouTube just before the news broke Thursday that a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump, also unsurprisingly avoids mentioning his legal travails. Cameron himself, though, predictably responded by claiming that “political weaponization of our justice system” was to blame for what happened to Trump. Two of Cameron’s primary foes, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, jumped in with similar language; McClatchy points out that none of these three candidates noted that Trump is also being investigated in Georgia for his attempts to overturn Biden’s win.
Bluegrass Freedom Action says this opening ad is a “multi-six-figure” buy, and the Republican firm Medium Buying has tracked $200,000 for a week-long TV buy. However, the super PAC has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to match the $4.2 million that NBC says Craft and her allied super PAC have already deployed with about a month-and-a-half to go before the primary. So far, there have been no TV ads to support Quarles, Auditor Mike Harmon, or Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.
A late January survey from Mason-Dixon for several state media organizations gave Cameron a wide 39-13 lead over Craft, but that was well before anyone started attacking the attorney general on the airwaves. Over the last few weeks, though, Craft and her backers have run commercials labeling the frontrunner as a “soft establishment teddy bear” and arguing he “decided to close” a “coal-fired plant running that serviced 165,000 Kentuckians.” While Cameron has hit back in tweets and press releases, including with a photo of a teddy sporting an "I ♡ Cameron" shirt, he’s had no one defending him on the air until now.