Why is a Potential Gubernatorial Candidate Tweeting About a Taiwanese Teddy Bear?

We’re two years out from the 2023 gubernatorial primary this week, and one of the shadow candidates for the race keeps tweeting about a stuffed animal. 

Kelly Craft, the wife of mega-donor Joe Craft, of Alliance Coal, is positioning herself to run for governor on the Republican ticket, but it’s her tweets about TaiBear, a stuffed animal that has some, including me seriously confused. 

I often say there’s nowhere else you can have this much fun covering politics than in Kentucky. This story again proves it, I can see the conversation in a few years to someone outside the state – we once had the former United Nations Ambassador who was running for governor, but kept tweeting about a stuffed animal in relation to another country.

As other GOP shadow candidates are taking stances on COVID mandates from the governor, Craft’s latest tweet mentions a paper towel holder that shipped from Taiwan and a stuffed bear. This isn’t the first TaiBear tweet from the former ambassador. 

“Peek-a-boo! I ordered a new paper towel holder for the kitchen. ‪#TaiBear  was excited to see that it, too, came from ‪#Taiwan,” the tweet from Craft reads.

I don’t want to be too hard on the first-time candidate, but I don’t get it – what is a TaiBear? I asked her via a direct message on Twitter but didn’t get a response.  

Why does it matter? If it was a lower office I wouldn’t waste my time, but she’s running a shadow campaign for governor. Shouldn’t she be talking about Kentucky’s many issues, and held to some account to describe her position on those?

Craft is going to have to make a hard turn from discussing international issues, and buying paper towel holders from Taiwan to talk about her vision for Kentucky and how we become prosperous here in the bluegrass. So far she’s not telling that story – yes, there’s time, but that’s the whole point of a shadow campaign – to tell that story. 

There’s another option here – while it still does not make sense to tweet about a teddy bear, Craft could be eyeing federal office, namely the U.S. Senate. Right now there is not a vacant post, but there are always rumors that something could shift and a seat could open up. Keeping her talking points to international and federal issues could be an indication of that preference. 

The United States canceled a trip to Taiwan at the end of the Trump administration in January that Craft was due to attend. The trip was seen as a provocation to China – and Bejing reacted, warning the United States not to play with fire.