GLASGOW, Ky. (LEX 18) — Republican Kelly Craft officially launched her campaign for Kentucky governor in Glasgow on Tuesday when she gave her first public speech as a candidate. In it, she told her supporters that she will fight for "Kentucky values."
Although Craft has entered a packed Republican field of candidates, she didn't focus on the GOP primary in her speech. Instead, she zeroed in on the general election and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
In Glasgow for Kelly Craft’s official campaign launch tonight.— Karolina Buczek (@Karolina_Buczek) September 13, 2022
The set up is in front of the courthouse. Public will be let in at 5:30 p.m. (central) and Craft will take the stage later this evening.
This is the first time she will speak publicly as a candidate.@LEX18News pic.twitter.com/FMpz3dXuj3
“It’s time to fight back against the failed Biden-Beshear policies that are making life harder and more expensive,” Craft told a few hundred people gathered outside the Barren County courthouse.
She told the crowd that Kentuckians have been hit by “Democrat-made disasters” of inflation and pandemic-related lockdowns during Beshear’s tenure. It was part of her effort to link the governor to President Joe Biden.
“Don’t you think we need to fire Andy Beshear?” Craft said to applause. “Well, I do, too.”
Craft is not the only Republican candidate for governor trying to nationalize the race. They are following a strategy that has proved successful for the Kentucky GOP in the past.
What makes Craft different from her opponents is her wealth. She and her husband, coal magnate Joe Craft, donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates in the past. Craft is able to finance her campaign by tapping into her family's wealth.
However, unlike some of her opponents, Craft has never held an elected position. She was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as US ambassador to Canada and then US ambassador to the United Nations, but those are appointed—not elected—positions.
So, during her speech, Craft gave voters a glimpse at what she's prioritizing as she stressed her conservative credentials.
She bemoaned Kentucky’s deadly illegal drug scourge, touted her support for gun rights, and vowed to ensure that schoolchildren are taught the basics and “not radical woke ideologies.” And she promised to crack down on crime.
Craft also hit on crime as a big issue.— Karolina Buczek (@Karolina_Buczek) September 13, 2022
Says she will crack down on crime. Tells drug dealers, she’s coming after them.
Tells the crowd she will never defund the police. @LEX18News pic.twitter.com/Oa3bqtD0Rz
“President Trump sent me into that snake pit at the United Nations for a reason,” Craft said. “He knew this Kentucky girl would be strong enough to stand up for American, for Kentucky values. And tough enough to take on the Communist Chinese Party.”
She also played up her time representing the United States as its ambassador to the United Nations.
She later added: “If I can fight for American values at the United Nations, then I can fight for Kentucky values right here at home.”
However, the former president did not endorse Craft. Instead, his endorsement went to GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Other GOP candidates for governor include state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, state Auditor Mike Harmon, state Rep. Savannah Maddox and former northern Kentucky Eric Deters.
Craft’s entry in the gubernatorial race had long been anticipated. After her Tuesday speech, Kentucky Democratic Chair Colmon Elridge referred to it as “the phoniest rollout money can buy.”
“But Craft can’t write a check to hide her jaw-dropping lack of qualifications or experience,” he said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.