Former Gov. Steve Beshear says it's time for officials to publicly condemn hate groups

08/16/2017 02:31 PM

NEWPORT – Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear believes that it’s time for government officials to stand up and condemn neo-Nazi sympathizers like those who attended the rally last Saturday in Charlottesville which resulted in 1 death and 19 injuries.

Beshear, who was governor from 2007-2015, spoke at the Northern Kentucky Forum on Wednesday and told those in attendance that now is the time to send a message that the abstract thinking of those sympathizers is wrong and not part of the culture of this country.

“We’ve got to send that message and we’ve got to constantly send that message that that’s not acceptable,” Beshear said. “That doesn’t mean somebody can’t have a rally and say what they want, but what it does mean is that the people in positions of power need to send that message loudly and clearly that that’s not who we are, and that’s not what this country’s going to be about.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin told reporters that he’s opposed to removing Confederate monuments from public property, calling it a “sanitization of history.”

Meanwhile on Saturday, after the Charlottesville rally, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced that he wants to move two confederate monuments outside the old Fayette County Court House on Main Street, near the historic site of one of the country’s largest slave auction blocks, to a nearly memorial park.

Beshear recognizes that the issue is one where emotions run high on both sides.

“It’s a tough issue because of the emotions involved,” Beshear said. “Obviously, the Civil War is part of our history but I do think that there are appropriate places of where we honor the past, and where we study the past.”

Beshear said that as a former governor, he doesn’t want to nitpick any of Bevin’s decisions thus far, but one thing he does plan to do is advocate for the good things that his administration put in place.

“The way you move a state forward is to not, every 4 years, changing things, or every 8 years, changing things,” Beshear said. “I took a lot of things that Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was a Republican I defeated when he ran for re-election, he was doing a lot of good things and so I took those things and built on them. One was in the area of opioid abuse.”

Beshear was complimentary of his son, Attorney General Andy Beshear on the job that he has done his first term in office tackling issues like opioid abuse, sexual abuse, consumer protection, as well as taking on the governor when he deems it necessary.

“The Attorney General has to step up and sue the government and, on occasion, that’s what Andy’s had to do when he’s felt like the governor has stepped over his bounds, and abused his power, Beshear said. “Andy had to take him to court; and you know what, every time he has, he’s won.”

There’s speculation that the battles between Beshear and Bevin are a precursor to a potential run for governor in 2019 for the younger Beshear.

The former governor said that it’s really too early to tell.

“I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t think Andy does either right now,” Beshear said. “He’s concentrating on being the best Attorney General that he can be and then the future will take care of itself. Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Since the 2015 election, Democrats have lost the Governor’s Mansion, two Constitutional offices, as well as 17 House seats.

Beshear outlined what his party needs to do to gain a foothold again in the state which has turned deep red.

“The Democrats have kind of gotten off into identity politics, we campaign to groups, and we forget about the issues that cut across all of those groups,” Beshear said. “All of those groups are great but we need to be broader than any one group. We need to be campaigning on issues like opportunity, a good job, a good economy, good education, good health care.”

Beshear is promoting his book, “People Over Politics,” which is an overview of his life in public service.


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