Craft won’t be part of March 7 GOP debate in Louisville, cites travel conflict

By: - February 16, 2023 12:58 pm

Kentucky Republican governor candidate Kelly Craft speaks to a crowd at Heitzman Traditional Bakery and Deli in Louisville on Feb. 16. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

LOUISVILLE — Voters tuning in to the first Republican gubernatorial debate on March 7 will not get to hear from candidate Kelly Craft. 

Upcoming GOP debates

Craft, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday that she is not participating in the Louisville GOP Gubernatorial Debate on March 7 because of conflicts with her campaign travel schedule.

“I am traveling. … I’m going across the state of Kentucky as I have been, sitting at boardroom tables, kitchen tables, any table that I can find,” she said during a Louisville stop on her Kitchen Table Tour Thursday morning.

The Jefferson County Republican Party tweeted a link to purchase tickets last week with the names of five invited candidates. At the time, it said Craft’s appearance was pending. On Wednesday, the local GOP organization tweeted an updated link along with the four names of confirmed candidates: Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Auditor Mike Harmon, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles. 

It’s the first debate for gubernatorial candidates ahead of the May 16 primary. Twelve Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination. 

Louisville GOP is partnering with Spectrum News to moderate and broadcast the debate across Kentucky. It will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Henry Clay in the city. 

Craft said she looked forward to other upcoming debates, such as the Kentucky Sports Radio and the Kentucky Educational Television debates. She would also like to participate in other debates as her schedule allows, she added. 

Craft, Cameron, Harmon, Keck and Quarles will appear at KSR’s GOP Republican Primary Governor’s Debate on April 19. Radio host Matt Jones, who once considered a possible U.S. Senate run against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said on Twitter that he will moderate that debate. Other KSR staffers will also ask questions. The debate will be live. 

Jones said Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear will be offered an interview before the primary. 

KET will host a Republican and a Democratic debate for governor candidates on May 1. The station has a list of criteria to invite candidates. It includes that a candidate has a campaign website with public policy statements and the candidate must have reported monetary contributions of at least $100,000 or reported expenditures of at least $100,000 for the current election.

In an email, KET Senior Director of Marketing & Communications Todd Piccirilli said: “At this point, no invitations have been sent. Letters were mailed out last month as a courtesy to candidates who had filed with the Secretary of State in the races we’ll be covering.”

Piccirilli added that the letters included candidate criteria and the anticipated debate schedule

A table at a Louisville stop on Kelly Craft’s Kitchen Table tour displays campaign clothing and other materials. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by McKenna Horsley)

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.