BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky State Representative Savannah Maddox officially kicked off her gubernatorial campaign Monday night in Boone County, telling a crowd of supporters that she is the most "authentic conservative" in a growing field of Republican candidates.
"This fight is just getting started," she said to a round of cheers.
Maddox is the ninth Republican to enter the primary field, joining prominent figures like Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and State Auditor Mike Harmon.
During her speech Monday night, Maddox sought to distinguish herself from the other candidates in the field by calling into question their willingness to push back against Governor Andy Beshear's COVID-19 mandates.
"Where were they?" Maddox asked, without naming any specific candidates. "Where were they when it mattered?"
Maddox, 34, was first elected to the KY House of Representatives in 2018 and has quickly emerged as a leading voice in the 'Liberty' wing of the Kentucky Republican Party.
"I was the lone voice in the wilderness at the state level for so long," Maddox said, referring to her role in leading protests against COVID-19 mandates. "[I was] the only elected official in Frankfort willing to stand up and say, 'No, we will not abide.'"
While her profile began to rise during the beginning of the pandemic, Maddox also drew more scrutiny.
In May 2020, House Democratic leaders called for Maddox to be formally censured by House Republicans. They accused Maddox of emboldening a group that hanged Governor Beshear in effigy outside the state capitol.
Maddox said at the time that she did not attend the rally where the effigy was hanged and that she stood "in unison with the House Majority Caucus in condemning all acts of hatred in the context of political discourse."
In response to Maddox's filing Monday, the Kentucky Democratic party called the representative "the ringleader in the state legislature" of "unhinged, dangerous extremists."
Maddox also used a portion of her speech to rail against what she called "woke progressive ideology."
"So many of the institutions that we hold sacred are under attack," Maddox claimed.
Although she said she did not want to "fearmonger" about the current state of Kentucky, she said we live in "perilous times."
"The greatest threat to our country exists from within and its weapon of choice is socialism," Maddox said.