“Everything is at stake,” says Stevenson, a state representative and 27-year military veteran
Kentucky state Rep. Pam Stevenson believes Kentucky is ready to elect its first Black female attorney general.
“We’re winning,” Stevenson, the Democratic nominee for Kentucky’s top law enforcement officer, told theGrio. “Everything is at stake. No more [holding] your vote hostage because if you don’t vote now, you won’t have a vote.”
On Tuesday, Kentucky voters will determine the next attorney general and governor, along with other statewide and local offices.
Stevenson, who retired as a colonel after nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, largely frames her race against her Republican opponent, lawyer , as one that would determine the state of democracy, both in Kentucky and nationally.
Beyond tackling crime, her campaign platform focuses on democratic freedoms like abortion access, voting and LGBTQ+ rights, promising to be a uniter amid increasing political divisions across the state and the country.
Since entering the Kentucky House, the ordained minister earned a reputation for speaking her mind without reservation. A number of Stevenson’s floor speeches have gone viral, including one in protest of Kentucky passing one of the strictest anti-trans bills in the country.
“You can’t send us back to the 1300s,” she told theGrio. “Now is the time for each one of us to dig deep, dig through the tiredness, dig through the wretchedness, dig through the lies and say, ‘Not on my watch, will you destroy democracy.’”
Stevenson believes her experience in the military, where she served as a judicial advocate general, makes her uniquely qualified to lead the attorney’s general office.
“I worked for 27 years with military members, and every year we took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and we never thought it would be domestic,” said the retired colonel, seemingly referring to the Republican Party’s ties and loyalty to former .
The Republican has been indicted four times this year on state and federal charges. In one of the federal cases brought by special counsel Jack Smith, Trump is accused of conspiring to defraud the United States and to obstruct an official proceeding of Congress as part of an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump has ties to Stevenson’s opponent, Coleman, and the current attorney general of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron. Trump appointed Coleman to serve on a commission within his Justice Department and glowingly endorsed Cameron, who is running to become Kentucky’s first Black governor, on Tuesday.
“Don’t tell me you believe in law enforcement when your biggest person that you hail is the biggest person that’s breaking the law,” Stevenson said.
Coleman said his priority as attorney general would be “the same as President Trump’s: Make America Safe Again.”
But Stevenson slammed her opponent’s tough-on-crime platform and attacked his reported record of leniency for child sex offenders.
“Don’t talk to me about tough on crime when the least of these who can’t protect themselves, you let their offenders go,” she told theGrio.
Stevenson said Coleman and Cameron are part of a national trend of a party that is more interested in a “power grab” than representing and protecting communities.
Cameron has been heavily criticized by Democrats and activists, including Until Freedom founder Tamika Mallory, for his handling of investigations into the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in March 2020.
The Republican prosecutor declined to charge the officers who fired the bullets inside Taylor’s home during a botched police raid, instead deciding to charge one officer with endangerment for shooting into a neighbor’s residence.
Some grand jurors in the case spoke out publicly against Cameron for not presenting any evidence to indict the officers for Taylor’s death, despite the attorney general saying during a press conference that jurors “agreed” that homicide charges were not warranted.
Cameron’s decision was followed by the Department of Justice’s move in August to bring federal charges against four officers connected to Taylor’s death.
“If the office of attorney general was for the people, by the people, to serve the people, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Stevenson said. “It would have been instant justice. The Department of Justice would not have come down to do the job he should have done.”
Stevenson said she wants to return the attorney’s general office back to “the people,” including Black and brown communities who are often ignored.
“You only have limited resources, and you focus your whole office as a weapon so you can have power. Meanwhile, Kentuckians are suffering,” she said. “They don’t have what they need to take care of their families.”
Leaning on her military experience as a Black woman, Stevenson said, “I’m a short, Black woman in an all-white male establishment when I went in and I learned how to play the game.”
“They sent me to Africa, they sent me to the Middle East, and I had to go get what was needed so America could thrive,” she continued. “I couldn’t run back and say, ‘look, they don’t like me.’ I had to develop my leadership to run complex organizations over global continents and over states.
“Twenty-seven years practice of creating win-win creative solutions is what I bring to the attorney general’s office that’s not there,” Stevenson added. “Neither my opponent nor the current occupant has that.”
Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
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