KY-Gov: New financial reports show Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear crushing Republican Daniel Cameron in fundraising, with the incumbent raising $15 million to date compared with just $2.8 million for his challenger.
As the Louisville Courier Journal's Joe Sonka explains, Beshear has brought in $5.8 million since the mid-May primary, on top of $6.2 million he raised before the primary—money he didn't have to spend since his race, unlike Cameron's, was uncompetitive. On top of that, the state Democratic Party recently shipped $3 million directly to Beshear's campaign.
That huge haul has allowed him to massively outspend his rival: The Lexington Herald Leader says that Beshear has already shelled out $10.8 million, compared to just $1.4 million for Cameron. Yet despite that spending gap, Beshear still has a $4.2 million war chest, while Cameron has just $1.4 million on hand.
Beshear has made the most of his financial advantage, and his allies have been piling in, too. According to the Herald Leader's Austin Horn, figures from the GOP firm Medium Buying show that the Democratic side has spent $21.3 million on the airwaves versus $12.3 million for Republicans, but the advertising gap is actually far bigger.
As Digest readers know, candidates are entitled to lower ad rates than third-party outfits. As a consequence, because $7.6 million of the Democratic total is from the Beshear campaign itself, that money has gone much further in terms of purchasing actual TV and radio spots.
Outside groups are also vulnerable in another way we've frequently mentioned. Because stations are obligated to run ads from candidates regardless of their contents, they're also immune from liability in any lawsuit alleging defamation. But that's not the case with third-party ads: Stations are able to either accept or reject them, meaning that they can be sued over falsehoods.
And that's precisely what Beshear is warning in a new letter to stations in Louisville and Lexington regarding an ad from a pro-Cameron group called the School Freedom Fund that's affiliated with the hard-right Club for Growth. The spot focuses on a man named James Hamlin who was convicted of sexually abusing a child. A narrator claims that Beshear "turned him loose, released back into the community within a year," except that Hamlin was never released. (Hamlin's sentence for intimidating a witness in a separate case was commuted, but he's been behind bars continuously since early 2020.)
Attorneys for Beshear have demanded the ad be taken down, saying its "entire premise is based on a falsehood." The Herald Leader's Tessa Duval reports that the PAC at some point released an altered version of the spot claiming Beshear "signed an order intended to release Hamlin from jail," but Beshear's team says the ad is still untrue. It's not clear yet whether any stations have in fact removed the ad from the airwaves.