FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republicans came to the state’s premier political event this weekend intent on winning elections in November and beyond, but some candidates aspiring to become governor had a hard time coming to terms with Donald Trump's defeat in 2020.
They gave parsed or tortured responses when asked if Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Trump was fairly decided.
Their tiptoeing was a sign of Trump’s continued hold on many in the GOP in Kentucky and elsewhere.
Trump has already weighed in on Kentucky's 2023 race for governor. He endorsed Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Cameron pointed to the Trump endorsement during his picnic speech. But he bristled at questions during the weekend about the ex-president's unsupported claims of widespread election fraud in 2020.
“The election was fair and secure here in Kentucky," Cameron said to one of the questions from reporters. “Look, we’ve got to focus on the future. And that’s what this campaign’s about.”
Cameron wasn't the only GOP candidate to struggle answering Trump-related questions.
Asked if he thinks Biden won fairly, Ryan Quarles replied that Kentucky had a “secure election” and that Trump “won tremendously” in the Bluegrass State. Quarles, the state agriculture commissioner, is also among the gubernatorial candidates seeking the GOP nomination to be decided next spring.
Another gubernatorial hopeful, state Auditor Mike Harmon, gave a more than 140-word response when first asked if Biden won fairly. Harmon later said some key election-related “controls were taken off" but said he couldn't “make an assessment one way or the other.”
Gov. Andy Beshear is seeking a second term. He skipped the picnic and spent Saturday consoling flood victims in eastern Kentucky.