As Cameron, GOP denounce ‘Uncle Daniel’ ad as racist, group co-founder doubles down

Republicans are lashing out at a new radio ad that refers to the Black GOP nominee for Kentucky governor as “Uncle Daniel,” but the co-founder of the group behind the ad isn’t backing down — and promises a video version of the spot.

The 30-second ad from Black Voters Matter Action PAC, a political action committee unaffiliated with any candidate’s campaign, urges voters to support Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear over conservative challenger Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

“What’s up, Kentucky? It’s election time, and all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk,” the ad says, citing a phrase attributed to the late Black American author Zora Neale Hurston.

“Over the past few years, we’ve taken to the streets to demand racial justice, to demand health care and the right to make decisions about our bodies. And now Uncle Daniel Cameron is threatening to take us backwards. The same man who refused to seek justice for Breonna Taylor now wants to run our whole state.”

An audio recording of the ad was published Friday by The Daily Wire, a Nashville-based right-wing digital site. According to The Daily Wire’s post, the Cameron campaign was not aware of the ad prior to the website reaching out about it.

On Friday, The Herald-Leader attempted to get a copy of the ad and comment about it from a public relations representative who works with Black Voters Matter, as well as two Kentucky radio stations — Magic 101.3 in the Louisville area and 104.5 The Cat in Lexington — where the PAC had purchased air time, according to Federal Communications Commission filings. Requests for comment were not returned.

While those filings confirm the PAC spent thousands of dollars to air an ad, they did not include the text of the ad. Additionally, the Herald-Leader listened to Magic 101.3 for more than five hours Friday in an attempt to hear the spot, to no avail.

Cameron, 37, is the first major party Black nominee for Kentucky governor. He was swift to denounce the ad as “racist and hateful.”

“I believe here in Kentucky you shouldn’t be judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character,” Cameron said in a statement. “The same cannot be said of Joe Biden, out-of-state, radical left interest groups, and the national Democrat Party, who think you can’t be Black and conservative.

“I never faced racism or discrimination while growing up or working in Kentucky until I decided to stand up to the national Democrat establishment. I don’t support their policies, so the left attacks me for my skin color.”

Cliff Albright, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Black Voters Matter, spoke to media commentator Roland Martin of Black Star Network about the ad and motivation behind it in a video posted to YouTube Saturday.

“We dropped it very simply, right, because it’s the truth,” Albright said. “Everything that we said, (Cameron) hasn’t attacked the accuracy of the ad at all. Did you or did you not let go and refuse to charge the people, the police officers, that killed Breonna Taylor? You don’t want to talk about the substance of the ad. You want to talk about the ‘Uncle Daniel Cameron.’”

Albright noted there will be a video version of the ad, too, and that’s when Cameron is “gonna really flip out.”

Black Voter Matter hosted a three-day “We Won’t Black Down” bus tour across Kentucky last week, according to a news release from the group. The objective was “to educate voters about the election and the impact it could have on local issues like lack of accountability, criminal justice reform, abortion and LBGTQ rights.”

‘It’s issue after issue after issue’

Speaking to Martin, Albright also cited Cameron’s stance on healthcare and affirmative action, including joining a coalition of 13 attorneys general, which, according to a news release from Cameron’s office, intended to “fight against woke ideology by warning some of the nation’s largest, most profitable companies against continuing race-based hiring practices.”

“So, it’s not even just his stance on the Breonna Taylor case, of police accountability. It’s issue after issue after issue where he has shown himself to be just as much of a threat to the Black community as the staunchest white supremacist,” Albright said.

“You don’t have to be white to pursue and reinforce white supremacist policies.”

Sean Southard, a spokesperson for the Cameron campaign, said Cameron has traditional, conservative views and likening them to that of white supremacy is “disgusting.”

“But this is where the modern Democrat Party has taken us: Kentucky’s first-ever Black gubernatorial nominee is being called a white supremacist because he is a Republican,” Southard said in a statement. “That sort of irresponsible language is an insult to every conservative-thinking person in the state.”

Asked about the ad at a campaign stop Sunday, Beshear noted it came from “an African American-led PAC, so we’ll let them comment for themselves.”

Because outside expenditure groups and campaigns are not legally allowed to coordinate, it is standard for candidates to avoid commenting on PAC decisions.

Similarly, the Cameron campaign did not respond to a Herald-Leader request for comment in September about an ad from a PAC supporting Cameron’s bid for office that was criticized by the Beshear campaign for using footage of the governor’s young daughter.

‘I can only control my own speech’

Black Voters Matter is not the only group to go after Cameron for his handling of the investigation into the fatal Louisville Metro Police shooting of Taylor in March 2020, nor is it the first to tie those prosecutorial decisions to Cameron’s race.

Under Cameron’s administration, the office of the attorney general acted as the special prosecutor in the fatal police shooting of Taylor and did not bring charges for the emergency room technician’s death.

Her death at the hands of Louisville police became one of the defining cases of the nation’s Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Until Freedom, a social justice group based in New York, has launched a “Stop Cameron” campaign of its own.

One of Until Freedom’s founders, Tamika Mallory, has also faced scrutiny from the right for saying, “Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout Negroes that sold our people into slavery.” A recording of that quote was later used during a Saturday Night Live performance by rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

At a June news conference announcing the “Stop Cameron” campaign, one of the speakers — Michael Blake, a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee — also referred to Cameron as “Uncle Daniel.”

“The reason why we are here is to remind people that elections have consequences,” Blake said. “Now, Uncle Daniel... Uncle Daniel has repeatedly had a history in this state of demonstrating that he does not give a damn about you.”

In early August, the Herald-Leader published a deep examination into the history of Cameron’s involvement in the Taylor case, the potential political ramifications of it in the governor’s campaign and an analysis of how and when Cameron chooses to discuss race.

While Cameron strongly pushes back against racist remarks made specifically about him, he has also at times, avoided talking about race and racism.

For example, when asked about withdrawing from a scheduled event hosted by Eric Deters, the fourth-place finisher in the May GOP primary, after Deters’ racist remarks resurfaced, Cameron instead repeatedly pivoted to other talking points rather than condemn Deters’ comments.

In a previous statement to the Herald-Leader, Cameron has decried what he describes as a “a double standard” throughout his political career.

“I often get asked to denounce every racist comment or behavior from any supporter,” he said in the August report. “I can only control my own speech. I can’t control everyone else’s.”