Kentucky and Mississippi Governor’s Races End With Democratic, Republican Victories

Beshear has been supportive of abortion over the course of his political career, including during the campaign

Ballot being placed in ballot box.
Ballot being placed in ballot box. (photo: ImFriday / Shutterstock)

The gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi on Tuesday ended with two incumbent victories, one Democratic and the other Republican, with both states holding their respective status quos after much-watched and expensive campaigns.

The elections were viewed by some as referendums on abortion, with campaigns in both states touching on abortion rights and pro-choice backers spending big money to help boost up the pro-abortion candidates in their respective races.


In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won a second term as governor on Tuesday, beating GOP contender and current state Attorney General Daniel Cameron by several percentage points.

“Tonight, Kentucky made a choice, a choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family,” Beshear said at a victory rally on Tuesday night. 

In a concession speech, meanwhile, Cameron said that he and Beshear “want the same thing for our future generations. We want a better commonwealth.”

Beshear has been supportive of abortion over the course of his political career, including during the campaign. In a debate last month, Beshear said he would “continue to fight” for exemptions to the state’s current abortion laws, which restrict nearly all abortions in the state with only narrow exceptions to protect the life of the mother.

The governor’s campaign ran an ad during the race in which 21-year-old Kentucky resident Hadley Duvall argued that “women and girls need to have options” regarding abortions in the state. Beshear at his victory party on Tuesday specifically thanked Duvall for her effort, saying: “Because of her courage, this commonwealth is going to be a better place and people are going to reach out for the help they need.”

Pro-abortion forces had poured money into the state throughout the election season, running ads attacking Cameron for his earlier stances on abortion. Planned Parenthood in September said it was launching a “historic six-figure ad campaign” to fight for abortion access in the state.


In Mississippi, meanwhile, GOP incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves fended off a challenge from Democratic opponent Brandon Presley, defeating him by a similar five percentage points in what emerged as a surprisingly close race in the deep-red state. 

“Mississippi has momentum, and this is Mississippi’s time,” Reeves said on Tuesday night. 

Presley, meanwhile, called the loss “a setback” but he argued that the race “elevated issues that had to be elevated in Mississippi.

During the race, Presley had affirmed what he said were his pro-life beliefs, though he still voiced his support for some abortion rights. “My faith teaches me to be pro-life, and I support exceptions in our law for rape, incest, and life of the mother,” Presley said during a recent debate with Reeves. “I’m pro-life, and I have been forever.”

Presley had received financial support from at least one notable pro-abortion partisan. Donor filings showed tens of thousands of dollars in support from Karla Jurvetson, the vice chair of the board of directors of Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-abortion politicians around the country. He had also received support from official Democratic channels, including the Democratic Governors Association, which pumped $4 million into his ultimately unsuccessful campaign.

Presley had denied that campaign donations could sway his opinions, stating during the debate that “if somebody donates to my campaign, it doesn’t change my beliefs for one second.”

Elsewhere in the U.S., voters delivered more unequivocal victories for abortion-rights supporters on Tuesday night. 

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum that adds a new “right” to “reproductive freedom,” including abortion and contraception, to the state constitution, ending a long and contentious fight over the measure there.

And in Virginia, Democrats secured full control of the state legislature, thwarting Republican Gov Glenn. Youngkin’s efforts to flip the state senate and enact a 15-week abortion ban throughout the state.