Republican candidates debate in Louisville ahead of May primary

At one point, each Candidate was asked to say one thing they hoped to accomplish once they were in office.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 5:01 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Five of the top republican candidates for governor were supposed to debate Wednesday in Louisville.

When the debate started, only four were on stage: State Auditor Mike Harmon, former UN ambassador Kelly Craft, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.

The debate moderated by Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones did not feature Attorney General Daniel Cameron who said a schedule conflict made it impossible to attend.

At one point, each Candidate was asked to say one thing they hoped to accomplish once they were in office.

“I think it’s so important that right now we have a conversation about supporting our men and women in law enforcement,” Ryan Quarles said.

Quarles said that would hopefully include higher pay for law enforcement.

Kelly Craft said she’d reform education.

“[I would remove] the woke-ism out of our schools,” Craft said. “My first day on the job, I’m going to be dismantling the department of education.”

The governor doesn’t have direct control over the department of education, but could in theory influence changes. For example, the governor can appoint members of the Board of Education.

Craft is also against Critical Race theory, or CRT.

No school system says they’re teaching CRT, but many republicans are insistent that it is.

All candidates Friday agree they want to keep CRT out of the classroom. None of them, however, defined what CRT is. Alan Keck said republicans need to take different approach.

“As a party, if we continually demonize public education, we’re going to struggle to win the general election,” Keck said. “We saw what happened in the last race.”

The ‘last race’ was Matt Bevin’s loss to Andy Beshear which many believe was due to his feud with teachers over their retirement funds.

State Auditor Mike Harmon says his history proves he can beat Democrats.

“I’m the only one on this stage that beat a high profile Democrat,” Harmon said. “I beat Adam Edelen.”

For most topics, all four candidates agree. They don’t want gun reform nor drag shows near children.

They all want to attack a mental crisis that they believe is causing an uptick in violent crime, and they want to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Whoever does win will likely face Beshear in the general election.