Gov. Andy Beshear may not have to work hard early on to gain traction against his Republican opponents in this year’s gubernatorial race.

In fact, he may just have to sit back and watch them do his campaign’s work for them.

With the May primary race featuring a dozen candidates seeking the Republican nomination, there was little doubt that the candidates would have to work to gain attention. I feel uniquely suited to comment on this race because I’m excluded from voting in it, being an independent.

Despite knowing that there would be an incredible amount of jockeying for attention, I still have to say I’m disappointed that the race is already turning nasty.

Candidate Kelly Craft who, according to the most recently-filed report with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, was leading fundraising as of Jan. 3 with receipts of $1.3 million, is taking aim at not just Beshear, but also fellow Republican and current Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

An ad recently released by Commonwealth PAC, a group supporting Craft, questioned Cameron’s conservative bona fides, calling him an “establishment teddy bear.” An ad released last week challenged Cameron commitment to coal.

I understand completely that, in our current political climate that kind of ad gets a “pop” from the cheap seats. It’s a way to get attention and generate news stories, as well as ignite internet flame wars.

Regardless of whether the allegations or assessments of these candidates issued by their opponents are true, these ads, and this type of campaigning are not going to help the commonwealth.

Kelly Craft is not a political newcomer, having worked on numerous campaigns before becoming an ambassador to Canada and the United Nations.

I’m sure she has a full platform of ideas about what she intends to do for the commonwealth. I mean it’s difficult to find on her website. All I found was her ideas on coal. But I’m sure there’s more than that.

How about highlighting that? How about instead of taking shots at the other Republicans, the candidates focus on telling the voters what ideas and abilities they have that will make them a better leader for Kentucky than Andy Beshear?

I know. I’m being naive. After all, that kind of campaigning isn’t “sexy.” It doesn’t attract the headlines or cut through the social media algorithms to rise to the top.

But I have to say it’s what we need right now.

Let’s just take a 50,000-foot view of Kentucky political landscape. The legislature is controlled by a Republican supermajority that is unapologetically conservative. While having a conservative governor would certainly make some things easier for the majority, it’s not necessary. They can easily pass any measure they want, then override the veto. That’s not likely to change soon. So remove that part from the equation about who should be governor.

Instead, what you need to tell voters like me (and I really believe there’s more of us than the spending on attack ads would indicate) is what you would do with the other duties and opportunities the position offers.

I don’t give a flip about your opinion about what the other guy or gal can or cannot do or has or hasn’t done. No, tell me what you can do, what you will do.

The other factor behind this is that if the Republican primary gets rough or nasty enough, it could make Gov. Beshear’s bid for a second term much easier.

There have already been millions of dollars contributed to these candidates. In the coming months leading up to the primary, then the general, you are absolutely going to be beaten over the head with mudslinging and attack ads. We will do our best as an organization to present these candidates as they are (or as close to that as we can get) and I pray that the voters of Kentucky look beyond the negative messaging and instead look for the truth.

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