Craft has loaned her campaign $7 million, husband’s trust put $1.5 million into super PAC

Quarles has most money on hand as Cameron, Craft have spent theirs clashing on airwaves

By: - April 19, 2023 10:27 am

Gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft speaks during the Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, April 14, 2023, at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)

Seven immediate takeaways from campaign finance reports filed by candidates for Kentucky governor:

1. Republican Kelly Craft is paying for her own campaign, and appears to be prepared to pay whatever it takes. So far she has loaned a stunning $7 million to her campaign. A trust of her husband Joe Craft has given $1.5 million to a super PAC that is promoting her election. That’s at least 82 percent of all the money raised through March 31 by the Craft campaign and the super PAC.

2. Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron got a massive boost during the quarter when The Concord Fund, of Washington, gave $1.5 million to a super PAC that is supporting Cameron.  The Concord Fund is a conservative group formerly called Judicial Crisis Network that is headed by Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to Wikipedia.

3. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear continues to raise big money in small contributions. In the first quarter of this year his campaign raised $1.4 million, bringing his fundraising total to $6.6 million. And his campaign has $5.9 million of that still on hand. That’s according to a press release from the Beshear campaign. The campaign’s report listing all the details was due on Tuesday but was not yet posted on the website of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance as of early Wednesday.

4. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has much more money on hand than either of his top Republican rivals Craft and Cameron. Quarles has been able to delay big spending so far, watching as Craft and Cameron spend their money attacking each other. As of March 31 Quarles had $903,000 on hand. Cameron had $593,000 and Craft $438,000 on hand as of that date.

5. The super PAC supporting Cameron got a $100,000 windfall from the “games of skill” machine manufacturer Paceomatic. ($50,000 from POM of Kentucky LLC, and $25,000 each from Paceomatic officials Michael Pace and Paul Goldean.)

6. The super PAC supporting Beshear reported contributions of $150,000 during the first three months of this year. All of that came from the Democratic Governors Association, which can be expected to give much, much more between now and the November election.

7. Officials and employees of Churchill Downs, who gave big to Beshear in December, placed a bet on Craft in February: Thirty employees, officials and directors of Churchill bundled a combined $46,000 to the Craft campaign.

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Tom Loftus
Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of The Ohio State University. His long career in Kentucky journalism includes four years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Kentucky Post and 32 years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Courier Journal. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and a freelance reporter for the Kentucky Lantern.