Andy Beshear edges out Whitney Westerfield to become next attorney general

11/04/2015 01:06 AM

After two years on the campaign trail and millions of dollars spent both for and against him, Democratic candidate Andy Beshear will be the state’s next attorney general.

Beshear, the son of current Gov. Steve Beshear, held off a GOP wave in a nail-biter against state Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville. Andy Beshear bested Westerfield by 2,190 votes, according to the unofficial results.

While Beshear saw other Democratic hopefuls and one incumbent go-down in flames, he pulled out the victory and ran a top-level campaign, defining his opponent early and touting a series of initiatives once elected ranging from protecting children and seniors from abuse and fighting illegal drugs.

Westerfield, who held his own watch party in his hometown, conceded the election a little after 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I’ve conceded the race to @AndyBeshearKY & look forward to working w/ him as Judiciary Chair for the people of KY. Keep him in your prayers,” Westerfield wrote on Twitter.

In his victory speech, Beshear said he “looks forward to working with (Westerfield) and both Republicans and Democrats to address these critical needs that face our commonwealth.”

Beshear reflected from the stage on the rough and tumble campaign with one of the largest advertising wars for a down-ballot candidate in recent memory.

“As you can tell from tonight this has been a pretty hard fought campaign. You know, outside groups took their best shot at us folks,” Beshear said. “We saw an unprecedented spend from an outside D.C. special interest group. More than we had ever seen in Kentucky, and more than had been spent against any attorney general candidate last year.

“Throughout all this night I had faith,” Beshear continued. “That Kentucky families and not D.C. special interest would choose their next attorney general, and they did.”

In winning the election, the 37-year-old Beshear, a lawyer with Louisville firm Stites and Harbison, follows in the footsteps of his father who held the office from 1979 to 1983.

On his way to victory, Beshear broke statewide records for his huge fundraising hauls of more than $3 million.

As the candidate took the to the air he was met with fierce opposition from the Republican Attorneys General Association, which spent more than $2 million in support of Westerfield, and tried their best to tie Beshear to President Barack Obama, who polls poorly in Kentucky.

Beshear also had outside help in the form of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which dropped nearly $1 million into commercial advertising driving up Westerfield’s negatives with references to his personnel record as a part-time Christian County assistant commonwealth’s attorney.

Onstage, Beshear shared a moment with his wife, Britainy, and spoke to his kids.

“To the two most special kids that any dad could ask for — you guys are the reason that I get up every morning,” Beshear said. “I love you so much, being your dad will be the job I always cherish the most. I love you guys.”

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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