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Former ambassador under Trump joins the Kentucky governor's race

Seth Wenig/AP
FILE - United States ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Craft launched her long-anticipated campaign for Kentucky governor on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, saying the state's “best days are ahead of us” as she joined a crowded lineup of Republicans competing to challenge Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear next year.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft is joining the crowded bench of Republican candidates for governor in Kentucky. The new entry could set off an intra-party contest to capture the Trump wing of the electorate.

A candidate boasting wide-ranging GOP connections, Craft’s main challenge will be shifting into campaign mode and boosting her name recognition among voters. Craft’s stint as UN ambassador under former President Donald Trump is mentioned in her first ad, which focuses largely on her Kentucky roots.

"From Happy Valley Elementary to the University of Kentucky to the boardroom and all the way to the United Nations," Craft says she's defied expectations.

Meanwhile, one of her challengers, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, is putting his association with Trump front and center in his new ad.

"Former President Donald Trump is endorsing Attorney General Daniel Cameron in his run for governor of Kentucky," an announcer reminds the audience.

Another GOP hopeful who has touted a previous Trump endorsement is Rep. Savannah Maddox. She’ll be joined on the ballot by several other high-profile names, including Auditor Mike Harmon and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who called Craft and the other candidates friends preparing for a spirited primary.

Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear was asked by WKYT about Craft’s entrance into the race to replace him and had this response.

"I'd say that right now elections aren't that important when there are so many people still suffering in the east and rebuilding in the west," Beshear said, referencing the deadly floods and tornadoes that have tested the state over the last ten months.

Beshear’s campaign strategist Eric Hyers did, however, take a swing in a statement, labeling Craft an “out-of-touch billionaire.”

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.