Kentucky Politics

Kentucky Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has announced that he’ll enter the 2023 governor’s race.

In a statement, Quarles said he wants to end political division between state lawmakers and the governor’s office by prioritizing common interests.

“I look forward to bringing my message of a shared vision of economic growth, investment in infrastructure and education, and less government intrusion in our lives, jobs, and schools to voters across the state over the coming months,” Quarles said.

Since taking office in 2019, current Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has repeatedly battled with the GOP-led legislature. Republicans opposed Beshear’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and passed several laws stripping the governor’s authority during states of emergency and other powers. 

Quarles sued Beshear in 2020, challenging the governor’s authority to limit crowd sizes at agriculture-related venues. 

Quarles joins State Auditor Mike Harmon in what could become a crowded Republican primary election. He announced his candidacy during a GOP gathering in Lexington on Saturday.

In a statement, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said Quarles’ time in public office has been defined by “self-enrichment and political grandstanding”.

“Beshear is the most popular Democratic governor in the country because he is providing effective leadership focused on attracting record economic development to our commonwealth,” Elridge said. “He has also led with a deep sense of compassion — understanding that these have been a trying, difficult few years and that here in Kentucky, we take care of each other and do right by our neighbors.”

Quarles is in his second term as agriculture commissioner. Several other Republicans have hinted at runs for governor, including former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and state Rep. Savannah Maddox.

 

Yasmine Jumaa is WFPL’s race and equity reporter.