Steven Lynn "Steve" Beshear (born September 21, 1944) is the 61st and current Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Elected in 2007, Beshear previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1974 to 1979, was the state's Attorney General from 1980 to 1983, and was Lieutenant Governor from 1983 to 1987. Beshear's term expires in 2011, and he is seeking re-election. His running mate for the 2011 gubernatorial election will be former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson; Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo opted to enter the 2010 Senate race instead of seeking re-election.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1968, Beshear briefly practiced law in New York before returning to Kentucky and being elected to the state legislature, where he gained a reputation as a consumer advocate. He parlayed that reputation into a term as attorney general, serving under Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. As attorney general, Beshear issued a controversial opinion that copies of the Ten Commandments would have to be removed from the walls of the state's classrooms in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Stone v. Graham. He also clashed with first lady Phyllis George Brown over charging the state's citizens an admission fee to view the renovated governor's mansion. In 1983, Beshear was elected lieutenant governor in the administration of Governor Martha Layne Collins. His most significant action in this capacity was the formation of the Kentucky Tomorrow Commission, a panel charged with making recommendations for the future of the state.
Beshear's rapid political rise was brought to an abrupt halt when he finished third in the five-way Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1987. Beshear's campaign sparring with former Governor Brown, the second-place finisher in the primary, opened the door for political novice Wallace Wilkinson's well-financed campaign to achieve a come-from-behind upset in the race. For the next 20 years, Beshear practiced law at a Lexington law firm. His only foray into politics during this period was his unsuccessful challenge to Senator Mitch McConnell in 1996. In 2007, however, Beshear was drawn back into politics by the vulnerability of incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher, whose administration was the subject of a protracted investigation by Attorney General Greg Stumbo because of alleged violations of the state's merit system. Beshear emerged from a six-way Democratic primary – largely on the strength of his pledge to bring expanded casino gambling to Kentucky – and defeated Fletcher in the 2007 gubernatorial election. So far, Beshear's opposition in the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate has prevented him from delivering on his gambling proposal, and an economic recession has largely kept him from addressing other priorities of his administration.