FRANKFORT, Ky. — Ryan Quarles says his experience in the Department of Agriculture will help him stand out in a crowded Republican field for governor. 

What You Need To Know

  • Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced his campaign for governor on Saturday

  • Quarles joins what is already a crowded race for governor among Republican candidates, with more expected to announce soon

  • The primary for governor is May 16, 2023


“We bring Republicans and Democrats and everything in-between together when it comes to making sure that we move Kentucky agriculture forward,” he said. “And I believe that we can do the same in state government.”

Quarles announced his campaign on Saturday and spoke with Spectrum News 1 this week, saying he can unite every branch of government in Kentucky.   

“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of division in Frankfort,” he said.

Quarles will try to get the nomination to take on Gov. Andy Beshear next year, a governor he said has failed including his handling of COVID-19.

“It’s as simple as this: our rights, freedoms and liberties should not be tossed out of the window, even during a global pandemic,” he said. “That we need a governor that believes in our constitution; that we need a governor who doesn’t sue people left and right; that we need someone who is going to work with the people and not ignore them.”

The GOP primary will probably include a lot of talk about former President Donald Trump.

“Well, I think he did a lot better job than the guy who is currently president,” Quarles said.

Quarles served on President Trump’s agricultural advisory board when Trump was running in 2016, and he said the former president did a lot for the agriculture field.  

“Believe me, right now we have a lot of success in international trade due to the trade agreements that he signed,” Quarles said.

But he doesn’t support what happened on Jan. 6 of last year as Congress certified President Joe Biden’s election win.

“There’s a difference between having a protest and letting your voices be heard; that’s something we welcome in a healthy democracy,” Quarles said. “But I think that those who trespass and committed crimes at the Capitol should be prosecuted.”

Several more Republicans are expected to announce campaigns, possibly as soon as next week, but Quarles said he isn’t worried about the competition.

“I think that it’s an opportunity for us to make sure that the strongest and best candidate emerges from the field,” he said. “I’m a believer that iron sharpens iron.”