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Breonna Taylor shooting becomes fodder in Kentucky governor's race

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is facing attacks from fellow Republicans over his handling of the 2020 police shooting.


Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is likely going to be linked to the Breonna Taylor tragedy for eternity. 

For many, Cameron, a Republican, is viewed as a Black face of white supremacy for his handling of the 2020 police shooting, in which Louisville police officers killed Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, during a botched raid on her home. Cameron declined to bring any charges directly related to her killing. And nearly three years later, the incident is posing problems for his gubernatorial campaign, although perhaps not for the reasons one might expect. 

He is in a hotly contested primary race to win the Republican nomination ahead of next year’s gubernatorial election. And one of his opponents is on the attack, alleging the attorney general’s handling of the police shooting showed he’s too liberal to be the GOP nominee. 

Kelly Craft, a former Trump administration official and a conservative megadonor, recently released an advertisement attacking Cameron over his response to a Justice Department report detailing issues within the Louisville Police Department. 

The ad claims President Joe Biden and "the woke DOJ asked to take over the Louisville Police Department, and Daniel Cameron let ‘em.” 

It’s a pretty ludicrous allegation, but one that could have valence among extreme conservatives, who may hold sway in the gubernatorial primary. 

The ad is referring to a report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, released in March, that found the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro government engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional behavior by routinely using excessive force, conducting searches based on invalid warrants and unlawfully discriminating against Black people. Following the report, the city of Louisville agreed with the federal government to negotiate a consent decree, effectively committing to making improvements to its policing practices. 

So no, Cameron isn’t the liberal lion Craft is making him out to be. Far from it. But Craft appears to smell blood in the water. An Emerson College poll released in mid-April showed Craft trailing Cameron by just 6 points. Previous polling showed Cameron with a double-digit lead in the primary race.

Craft essentially repeated the claims from her ad in a primary debate between the GOP candidates Monday, according to NBC News

And Cameron tried to clap back. 

“The fact of the matter is that Kelly has somehow made a determination that I could have stood at the Ohio River and told the Department of Justice they couldn’t come into the state,” he said. “She’s either naïve or doesn’t understand how the process works.”

But when it comes to the GOP primary process, it seems Cameron is the one confused about procedure. If he still thinks facts matter most among Republicans, he’s in for a rude awakening.

CLARIFICATION (May 17, 2023, 12:14 p.m. ET): This post was updated to clarify that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron declined to bring any charges directly related to Breonna Taylor’s killing. One of the police officers was charged with wanton endangerment over gunfire that went into a neighboring apartment.