How Potential GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Reacted to Largest Econ. Investment in KY History

Ford officially announced a $5.8 billion investment in Kentucky for twin high-tech lithium-ion car battery plants in Hardin County on Tuesday, but those seeking to challenge Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in 2023 were oddly silent at the news.

The location of the Ford battery plants in Kentucky cannot be overstated from an economic development perspective. The announcement means more than the 5,000 initial jobs not counting the construction or ancillary businesses needed, it is a signal to tech companies around the globe that Kentucky is open for high-tech business, our people can learn and do the work, and for other companies in the near future, it’s no longer lonely in Kentucky.

Given the historic significance of the largest single investment in state history, and what it means for the people of Kentucky, here’s what the potential Republican candidates were saying about the announcement this week.

Ryan Quarles – The Commissioner of Agriculture has been positioning himself for a gubernatorial run for the last six years. On Tuesday, Quarles posted a photo with Humana discussing the link between health and hunger in Kentucky on his official Twitter account. On his personal/campaign Twitter account, Quarles posted this week about GOP fundraisers, the 1996 Presidential Election results relating to Scott Co., and a speaking engagement yesterday with the Montgomery Co. Chamber of Commerce.

Kelly Craft – The former United Nations Ambassador is rumoured to be dumping millions into a race for governor. Craft is being followed by a three-person camera crew across the state as she talks about her time in the Trump administration, but this week she was silent on the major economic development happening at home. Craft took to Twitter this week to talk about the United States commitment to Israel and security in Taiwan.

Mike Harmon – The term-limited State Auditor is the lone GOP candidate officially in the race for governor. Harmon also ignored the announcement on his social media platforms. Harmon’s last tweet from his campaign account was his appearance at the World Chicken Festival in Laurel County five days ago. On his official account, he urged Kentuckians to apply for a couple of job openings in positions he had for public auditors, his team also Tweeted recent audit reports,

Max Wise – The Republican Senator from Campbellsville is mulling a run for governor and as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly he and his colleagues passed the $400 million in economic incentives for the Ford project. Wise lauded the announcement on social media, calling the announcement “a game-changer for Commonwealth and will be a long term benefit for my hometown and Senate District.”

“Great work by the Executive & Legislative branches,” Wise continued thanking Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, who was the primary sponsor of the legislation during the special session.

Savannah Maddox – The Northern Kentucky GOP State Representative abstained from voting for or against the economic incentive package when the bill came before the House at the beginning of the month during the special session. Maddox also abstained from speaking about the project on her social media accounts. This week she promoted herself attending the Northern Kentucky Right for Life Event on Tuesday and her attendance and tie for first place at the KCRWC Chili Cook-Off.

Alan Keck – The Somerset Mayor has a more precarious path to run for statewide office. Keck is up for re-election to a second term as Mayor in 2022 and then would have to swing into a GOP race for the nomination that is already underway in 2023. Keck also did not remark on the Ford announcement. Keck celebrated his 12-year wedding anniversary on Twitter posting a video of him and his wife eating wedding cake.