Craft will face Cameron, a McConnell protégé who has already secured Trump’s backing; Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quales, who has a large network of supporters in the state; and at least eight others to date.
Craft was immediately endorsed by Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Beshear’s campaign called her “an out-of-touch billionaire” who would “probably spend millions and millions of dollars trying to convince Kentuckians that she cares.” Craft and her husband have given generously to Republican candidates and committees over the years.
Just before the holidays, Kentucky circles were abuzz over the decision of Savannah Maddox, a far-right state legislator, to drop out of the race. Some thought it was a signal that former Governor Matt Bevin, who defeated Beshear in 2019 and occupies a similar “liberty lane” in Kentucky Republican politics, might step in. The race entry deadline is Friday and speculation abounds about Bevin’s intentions.
Cameron burst onto the national scene in 2020, earning critical acclaim from Republicans when he launched a sharp attack on the Democrats and Biden — linking them to what he termed the excesses of the social justice protests that swept the country after the assassination on a black by policeman, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
“The politics of identity, cancellation and mafia rule are unacceptable to me,” Cameron, who is black, said at the time. “Republicans trust you to think for yourself and pursue your American dream the way you want to.”
Some thought Cameron would wait until McConnell’s retirement to run for Senate, but he jumped into the governor’s race instead. He has used his platform as attorney general to provide a stark contrast to Beshear on abortion rights and the pandemic.
But Trump’s endorsement of Cameron didn’t deter Craft, who already raises more money than anyone else in the field. According to the initial report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, she raised just over $750,000 during the three months ending Sept. 30, while Cameron had raised just over $400,000 — putting him behind Quarles, who raised nearly $560,000. (Beshear has raised more than $1 million.)