A new political action committee ad slamming Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear for pandemic restrictions is being lambasted by the Democrat’s campaign for including footage of the incumbent’s young daughter.
The new commercial from Protect Freedom PAC — which is affiliated with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY — features three small business owners criticizing Beshear’s COVID-19 closures. As one such speaker says the governor brought Kentucky to “a standstill,” the video cuts to Beshear, holding a mask in one hand while his daughter, Lila, stands in front of him wearing a mask.
“There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, even in the midst of a tough political campaign, and using your opponent’s young daughter in an attack ad is one such line,” Beshear campaign manager Eric Hyers said in a statement. “If Rand Paul is going to keep this misleading ad on the air, he needs to take the governor’s daughter out of it immediately.”
Beshear is seeking a second term as governor against GOP challenger Daniel Cameron, the commonwealth’s attorney general. With just three gubernatorial elections in the nation this November, Kentucky’s contest has emerged as the most expensive as the campaigns and various PACs drop millions of dollars on television and radio ads.
The Herald-Leader reached out to Protect Freedom, but did not immediately receive a response Tuesday evening.
The 30-second ad is not on Protect Freedom’s website or YouTube channel, but it was posted by AdImpact, an organization that tracks political advertising. AdImpact reported the ad started airing Monday.
If the clip in the ad is from 2020, the height of COVID restrictions, Lila Beshear would have been around 10 years old, as she’s 13 now.
There should be lines that don't get crossed, even in heated political campaigns. And using your opponent's kids in an attack ad is one such line. Rand Paul can run whatever attacks he wants, but he should take @AndyBeshearKY's daughter out of it.
— Eric Hyers (@EricHyers) September 5, 2023
The Herald-Leader previously reported that Protect Freedom PAC began running digital ads in the Kentucky governor’s race in August, linking Beshear to bus issues at the start of the school year in Louisville.
A spokesperson for Protect Freedom PAC said at the time that the group was working with School Freedom Fund on a “combined $5 million” digital, television, mail and get out the vote program. Both Protect Freedom PAC and School Freedom Fund are largely bankrolled by conservative megadonor Jeff Yass, a billionaire investment and trading executive who has thrown his support behind Paul in multiple political endeavors.
“Gov. Beshear is not on my side,” says barbershop owner Bruce Gooden. “He’s not on the working man’s side.”