McConnell applauds Kentucky Republicans’ rise at public swearing-in of constitutional officers

Adams quips he will ‘not be a candidate for president against Andy Beshear in 2028’

By: - January 2, 2024 12:46 pm

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, right, attended Kentucky’s constitutional swearing-in ceremony Tuesday. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s most prominent Republican, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, applauded his party’s continued hold on most of Kentucky’s constitutional offices as newly elected or reelected officials took their public oaths of office on Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. 

“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to be here today in this most improbable thing, which is a crowd in Frankfort that is not at least 100% Democratic,” he said. 

McConnell recalled that state government was firmly in Democrats’ hands 47 years ago when he began his political rise as Jefferson County judge-executive. McConnell became a U.S. senator in 1984 by defeating a Democratic incumbent; he has  successfully helped elect other Kentucky Republicans.

Republicans gained control of the state Senate in 2000 and the House in 2016. They hold supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Registered Republican voters outnumbered Democratic voters for the first time in 2022.

Kentucky’s Republican constitutional officers pose for a photo after being sworn in Tuesday. They are, from left to right, Commissioner of Agriculture Jonathan Shell, Auditor Allison Ball, Attorney General Russell Coleman, Treasurer Mark Metcalf and Secretary of State Michael Adams. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

As they were in the 2019 general election, Republicans were elected in November to be Kentucky’s attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor of  public accounts and commissioner of agriculture. Kentucky’s other statewide office holders — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman — were sworn in during last month’s inauguration.

The Republicans’ terms began officially on Jan. 1 with private swearing-in ceremonies. The master of ceremonies for the public swearing-in was Republican strategist and CNN commentator Scott Jennings.

McConnell commended the Republicans who were sworn in publicly Tuesday, including his former legal counsel Attorney General Russell Coleman and Secretary of State Michael Adams, a former McConnell scholar at the University of Louisville. The scholarship is named after the senator.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers speaks during a constitutional officers’ swearing-in ceremony. Emcee Scott Jennings, right, listens. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

McConnell also commended Republican leadership in the General Assembly, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony. 

Adams, who handily won reelection to his position, told the crowd that he was “not done yet.” He quipped that he would like to put rumors swirling about his political future to rest and said he would “not be a candidate for president against Andy Beshear in 2028,” which earned laughs from the room, including the governor. 

Much as he did election night when his speech fueled speculation that he has his eye on the governorship, Adams spoke about issues facing the state at large, such as offering a tolerant society in Kentucky and not missing out on opportunities that other states receive. 

“Kentucky isn’t perfect. Our government certainly isn’t,” Adams said. “It is a continuous work in progress. When we see a blemish, we touch it up. When you see a decline, you look to improve.” 

In addition to Adams and Coleman,Treasurer Mark Metcalf, Commissioner of Agriculture Jonathan Shell and State Auditor Allison Ball, who finished two terms as state treasurer, took their oaths Tuesday. All had members of their families present.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, left, and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, right, speak ahead of constitutional officers’ swearing-in Tuesday morning. (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.