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Trump ambassador launches campaign for Ky. governor


Craft spent years cultivating connections within the GOP as she and her husband, coal magnate Joe Craft, donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates. That gives her advantages as she transitions from party activist to political candidate — she enters the fray with the ability to tap into her family’s wealth to finance her campaign and a resume from Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.

But Trump has already endorsed another GOP candidate in the race — Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Beshear’s campaign portrayed Craft as “out-of-touch’’ with Kentucky’s voters while touting the governor’s economic stewardship and handling of tornado and flood disasters.

Kentucky has tilted decidedly toward the GOP in recent years, but Beshear has consistently received strong approval ratings from Kentuckians in polls.

The Democratic governor is expected to highlight his management of the state’s economy in asking voters for a second term. Kentucky has posted records for job creation and investments during his term and has recorded its lowest-ever unemployment rates.

Beshear also has won bipartisan praise for his administration’s responses to epic natural disasters — tornadoes that tore through western Kentucky last December and historic flooding that swamped parts of eastern Kentucky in late July.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats fret as Abrams struggles in Ga.

NEWNAN, Ga. — Georgia Democrats have grown increasingly pessimistic about Stacey Abrams’ chances of ousting Governor Brian Kemp from office, pointing to her struggles to rally key parts of her party’s coalition and her inability to appeal to a slice of moderate Republican voters who can decide the state’s elections.

Public and private polls have consistently shown her trailing Kemp, a Republican seeking a second term. And, in a particularly worrying sign for Abrams, polls also show she is drawing less support than the other high-profile Democrat on the ballot, Senator Raphael Warnock, who is seeking a first full term.

The gap between the two Democrats, which is within the margin of error in some recent surveys and as wide as 10 points in others, highlights the extent of her struggles. Though she is beloved by Democratic voters, she has lost some ground with Black men, who provided crucial backing in her narrow loss to Kemp in 2018. And while Warnock draws some support from Republican moderates, Abrams — who has been vilified more by the GOP than any other statewide figure — has shown little sign of peeling off significant numbers of disaffected Republicans.

Abrams’s standing — consistently trailing Kemp in polls by around 5 percentage points — has alarmed Democrats who have celebrated her as the master strategist behind Georgia’s Democratic shift.

For years, she worked to register and turn out Democratic voters, narrowly losing her first bid for governor in 2018 and helping fuel President Biden’s victory in 2020. Now, her struggles have some Georgia Democrats wondering if the Abrams model — seeking to expand the universe of voters to fit her politics — is truly better than trying to capture 50 percent of the voters who exist now.

“Right now, people are concerned — kind of looking sideways,” said Erick Allen, a Democratic state representative, who said he hoped enthusiasm would pick up in the fall sprint. “There’s a lot of energy around the Warnock campaign. I’m not sure if the same energy that we had four years ago is around the Abrams campaign yet.”

In an interview last week, Abrams defended her strategy, noting that her Democratic turnout operation helped carry the state for Biden, Warnock, and Senator Jon Ossoff in the 2020 election cycle. “I imagine an electorate that is possible, not the electorate as if the election was held today,” she said.

She and her top aides believe her standing is improving, buoyed by voter anger over the Supreme Court decision overturning the federal right to an abortion. She is planning a broader campaign to highlight Kemp’s signing of a 2019 law — which went into effect in July — that bans abortion in Georgia after the sixth week of pregnancy.

Abrams’s allies said the comparisons between her and Warnock overlook stark differences. Abrams is a Black woman contending with sexist stereotypes about leadership, they note. She is also running against an incumbent governor with a well-built political apparatus, while Warnock’s rival, former football star Herschel Walker, is a political novice. (Both Kemp and Walker’s campaigns declined to comment.)

“We have to work harder as women, as African American women,” said former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who added that women “just have a harder time capturing the imagination as executives.”

NEW YORK TIMES

In Texas, Abbott leads O’Rourke in new poll

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott is holding his lead over Democrat Beto O’Rourke with nine weeks until the election, a new poll showed.

Abbott, 64, had a lead of 7 percentage points over O’Rourke, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to a joint survey by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. A similar poll from July showed Abbott ahead by 5 points.

Recent polls suggest the race is close, but a consistently higher proportion of votes for Abbott, who is seeking a third term.

“At least at the present time, the polls show Abbott will win, but it’s close enough that something could change,” said pollster Mark Jones.

O’Rourke, 49, is a former US congressman. His campaign appeared to pick up momentum in the summer after recent events, including the Uvalde massacre and the Supreme Court overturning the nationwide right to an abortion. Yet the surveys show the Democrat has been unable to further close the gap with Abbott, with the latest poll indicating O’Rourke has even lost a little ground in the past two months.

The two will face off in an in-person debate on Sept. 30 in South Texas. So far, the Friday evening debate is the only one that both Abbott and O’Rourke have agreed on.

O’Rourke has centered his campaign on fixing the electric grid that failed last year during winter storm Uri, restoring abortion rights, and tightening gun laws. Abbott, on the other hand, has focused his campaign on border security.

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