Sen. Max Wise: If I Step in to Governor’s Race ‘It’s to Win’

There’s a ton of attention and even more speculation around the 2023 field for governor of Kentucky. 

Six potential candidates are maneuvering in an effort to win the Republican Party’s nomination to take on Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, when he seeks a second term in office. 

The latest potential candidate eyeing a run for Kentucky governor is Republican Sen. Max Wise, a former FBI analyst from Campbellsville, Kentucky. Wise sees space in a GOP primary field that will potentially include Auditor Mike Harmon, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, Rep. Savannah Maddox, and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck. 

In an apparent dig at Craft, who is rumored to be dumping as much as $10 million into the race, Wise said Kentuckians want someone they can relate to as governor. 

“People want a governor they can really relate to, one that can sit down with them, talk to them, listen to them, and once again step up to the plate and be a fighter,” Wise said in an interview with Kentucky Fried Politics. 

Even though the entire potential field won’t be able to compete with the money Craft’s third-husband, mega coal-producer Joe Craft can put into the race he said resources would not be a problem for him to compete. 

For the first year since the 1990’s Kentuckians in the primary will only vote for the top of the ticket, the candidate for Lt. Governor will be selected following the May 2023 primary. For Wise, he said he’s not entering this contest to seek second place. 

“If I step in to this race it’s to win. It’s to win as governor,” he said. 

Wise is watching the timing play out for this race. He’s up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2022, and says his family is at the right place to take on this challenge. 

“Me being now a two term state Senator on the cusp of running a possible third-term, looking to run for that also, you know, I think the timing – my kids are at the age that it’s a little bit easier for me to consider doing something like this now,” Wise said. 

If Wise runs expect him to come on strong, show lots of personality and fire in an effort to create space with the other potential candidates. 

“I think people also want a voice out in the rural part of the state, I look at West Kentucky and I look where I’m at in South Central Kentucky and I think people want a fighter,” Wise said. “Look at what Donald Trump tapped into – a lot of frustration – people want a voice. I think I can tap into that.”

With six potential candidates all sharing similar views in the GOP primary, the contest will potentially be about personalities. 

“If you’ve got six candidates up there and they’re basically all standing for the same things – who am I, I’m going to be pro-life, pro-second amendment, I’m for lesser government, for more local control, everybody’s probably got the same thing at some point where does the contrast come into it and I think I can make that contrast against other candidates.”