Stumping on home turf, Massie has Cameron’s back despite earlier criticism

Congressman says his remarks were meant as ‘advice’ not ‘animosity’

By: - August 31, 2023 2:25 pm

GOP gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron, right, looks on as U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie speaks to a campaign gathering at the Lewis County Courthouse in Vanceburg, Aug. 31, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

Update: This story was updated Friday to reflect that Freedom Fest 2023 has been canceled. 

GREENUP — In his home district, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie said he’s always backed Kentucky GOP gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron despite accusing his campaign of “political malpractice” two months ago.

Massie, a six-term Republican congressman, made stops with the attorney general in Greenup, Lewis and Mason counties Thursday, all in the far eastern part of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District. After a crowded stop at the library in Greenup, Massie told the Kentucky Lantern his comments about Cameron’s initial plans to attend Freedom Fest were meant as “advice.”

Massie had heavily criticized Cameron earlier this summer for planning to attend the conservative event in Northern Kentucky hosted by a potential Massie opponent, suspended attorney Eric Deters. The congressman told the Courier Journal that Cameron’s advisers were “guilty of political malpractice.”

“Frankly, a lot of people portrayed what I said to the media as sort of disappointment or animosity, but really I was just trying to give him advice,” Massie said Thursday. “And he’s got a lot of good advisers and he took the advice and I think it was good.”

Daniel Cameron poses for a photo during a campaign stop in Vanceburg, Aug. 31, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

In June, Massie had said, “Why would a guy who has a good chance to be governor — the attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of the commonwealth — appear at an event organized by a man who lost his license to practice law in multiple states, who has a restraining order against him, who has been arrested for contempt, and who recently pled guilty to three charges of harassing and menacing?” 

Days later, Cameron’s campaign told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he had plans to campaign in another area of the state during Freedom Fest this September. 

“I’m glad he’s not going,” Massie said of Cameron on Thursday. “It makes it easier for me to campaign with him but I was always going to support him.”

Cameron said he was “delighted” to have the congressman’s support Thursday. 

“Thomas and I have a wonderful relationship and I’m grateful that he’s here today and certainly appreciate everything that he does in Washington, D.C.,” Cameron said, before adding that he is focusing on unifying Republicans against incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

Deters, who came in fourth in the Republican gubernatorial primary this year, has previously hinted that he plans to run against the congressman in next year’s Republican primary and make the announcement at Freedom Fest. 

More recently, Deters initially canceled the event as, he said, former President Donald Trump could no longer attend the rally. Briefly, the event was back on but Deters announced in a social media video Friday morning Freedom Fest was canceled againTrump, who is facing four criminal indictments including charges of election interference while mounting a 2024 presidential campaign, endorsed Cameron early on in the Kentucky governor’s race. 

Massie, a Lewis County native, urged support of Cameron at a campaign stop at the courthouse in Vanceburg, saying that would give Republicans control over executive branch appointments in Frankfort in addition to controlling the state House and Senate. As for things in Washington, Massie also hinted that the House Judiciary Committee was considering an impeachment inquiry of Democratic President Joe Biden

In his remarks at campaign stops, Cameron went after Beshear, on crime and education as well as his COVID-19 response. Cameron said Kentucky will not have mask mandates again if he is elected and noted that he took Beshear to court to reopen church gatherings early on in the pandemic. 

Cameron also touted his recent endorsement from the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police. Ryan Straw, vice president of the police union, spoke in support of Cameron in Greenup.

The attorney general also criticized Beshear for his vetoes of a controversial anti-transgender law passed by the General Assembly earlier this year and an act that prevents trans women and girls from participating in their schools’ women’s teams. The latter was sponsored by Cameron’s running mate, state Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson. The legislature overrode both vetoes.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie greets a constituent during a Cameron campaign event at the public library in Greenup, Aug. 31, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.