Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear is reporting positive meetings with leading Republicans as the power balance shifts in Frankfort. But the honeymoon could be short-lived if the GOP-led General Assembly presses forward with a bill limiting the governor’s influence over transportation projects.
In a now-familiar refrain aimed at outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin’s often contentious tenure, Beshear told reporters Tuesday he wants his administration to be a model of civility for a divided country.
"I think everybody wants the next four years to look different than the last four years, for us to communicate, for us to truly talk," the future governor said. "And I think everybody right now wants to try to set a tone that everybody in Kentucky can be proud of."
Beshear said Bevin called him Monday with a "gracious" invitation to attend a tree lighting ceremony, one the Democrat plans to accept. The call marked the first time the Republican has reached out to his political rival since the election. Beshear has repeatedly praised the outgoing governor for ensuring a smooth transition.
The governor-elect has been meeting with incoming Attorney General Daniel Cameron and other GOP leaders he’ll need to work alongside if he hopes to put any legislative wins on the board in the coming years. Asked about a bill filed on Election Day that would shift the authority to appoint the state’s transportation secretary and draw up the first draft of the state’s two-year road budget away from the governor to a newly-created nine-member board, Beshear expressed optimism the General Assembly would back off of such proposals as talks progress.
"My hope is that, as we continue to have those meetings, that maybe some of the impetus that led to that bill (will) slowly fade away," the incoming executive said. "But it's really early and we're going to have a chance to talk to legislators abou that as we move forward."
Backers note the bill was prefiled before the election results were known or certified, and argue it would take some of the politics out of transportation spending.
With Inauguration Day, Beshear also released more details about the planned festivities.
The new governor will be sworn in at midnight on December 10.
The day-long public events kick off at 7:30 with an inaugural breakfast, followed by a worship service, and Inaugural Parade. Beshear is putting a key group in his electoral coalition – educators – at the head of the procession.
"And for the first time, at least to my knowledge, in an inaugural parade, the governor is not going to be the very first person in that parade," the Democrat added. "We are going to let our teachers make that march, lead this parade, lead us into this new administration, all the way up the street and right to the Capitol."
Schools will be out in Frankfort, but classes will go on as scheduled elsewhere in the commonwealth.
After the public swearing in, to which all living governors will be invited, the state Capitol will host an open house in a nod to Beshear’s campaign promise to keep the doors to the people’s house open.
Soon-to-be First Lady Britainy Beshear said, "The state Capitol belongs to the people and this event symbolizes our commitment and openness and access to your government."
Rounding out the evening will be two side-by-side inaugural balls – black tie optional – that will last until midnight.