UPDATE: With Harmon in, Quarles admits he’s considering it too

UPDATE POSTED 1 P.M. JULY 13, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With one candidate already declared, questions are beginning to come for other likely Republican candidates in the 2023 Republican primary for governor.

One of those, Agriculture Commission Dr. Ryan Quarles, didn’t shy away from the subject during a stop in Lexington Tuesday.

“I am – I am strongly considering a run for governor of Kentucky, but right now I’m focused on doing my job and becoming the best ag commissioner Kentucky’s ever had,” Quarles said when asked following a food donation at God’s Pantry Food Bank.

State Auditor Mike Harmon announced Monday his plans to run. When asked about Harmon, Quarles said he was a “great friend” and they share the “same vision” of a Conservative leader in Frankfort.

Quarles is serving his second term as commissioner.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron also often is mentioned as a likely Republican candidate. Several state lawmakers and some business leaders also are mentioned as possible challenger for the Republican nod to face incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear, who has said he plans to run for a second term.

Some Republicans still are bitter that Beshear wrested the governor’s seat from incumbent Matt Bevin in November 2019. Beshear’s handling of the pandemic has drawn frequent fire from Republicans and that likely is to be the center of the campaign two years from now.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 11 A.M. MONDAY, JULY 12, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Analysts have speculated for weeks the 2023 Republican primary for governor could be a wild one.

It may have started out that way early.

State Auditor Mike Harmon announced Monday he intends to run, becoming the first major Republican name to officially throw his name in the hat.

“Today I filed paperwork to begin my path to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2023 Kentucky Governor’s race.  My launch is not filled with fireworks and fanfare, but merely my strong determination to help renew Kentucky and hopefully help this state become the best version of itself it can be,” Harmon said in a statement.

Other major Republican names who have been mentioned as likely to run include Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles.

Some legislators and former state officials also have been mentioned as possibly jumping in the race to earn the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear, who has said he plans to seek a second term.

Some have speculated Beshear could face a challenge in his own primary as part of the fallout from the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Harmon made the pandemic the centerpiece of his announcement Monday.

“Over the last year and a half, sadly Kentuckians have had their liberties and their livelihoods suspended and stolen while promises to make those losses whole have gone for the most part unfulfilled,” taking an obvious swipe at Beshear. “I learned a long time ago to make few promises because someone’s word should be their bond, and that bond, if at all possible, should be honored and unbroken. But I will make this promise that if I am elected, I will do my best to take time to listen to the people of Kentucky and to serve each and every one to the best of my abilities regardless of their political affiliation.”

The qualifying deadline is Jan. 6, 2023 and the party primaries are May 16, 2023.

First elected Auditor in November 2015, Harmon is a former state representative, serving 13 years representing the people of Boyle and Casey County, and previously Washington County, in the 54th District.

He also has experience in banking and insurance, according to his biography.

He is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with degrees in math, statistics and theater. He is a member of Junction City First Baptist Church and has been married to his wife Lynn for more than 30 years. They have two daughters and two grandsons.

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