Is Ryan Quarles running the wrong race? Skip to content

Is Ryan Quarles running the wrong race?

It’s early days, but Quarles may be running a 1990 race in 2023.

2 min read
Ryan Quarles filing to run for governor (Campaign photo)

Good morning! It’s really foggy this morning in The Ville. And the fog seems to be here for a while, rather than burning off as it usually does.

Seems rather fitting for the topic of today’s Daily Take. Whenever one tries to analyze tactics for a campaign, you are definitely operating in foggy conditions. Or, you are in the “fog of war” – the uncertainty caused by not knowing what the other side is doing behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, I’m going to plow ahead with the question posed in the headline: Is Ryan Quarles running the wrong race in his quest for the governorship?

Here’s what I mean. Kelly Craft is making news with her ads and the videos within them. Not necessarily good news – her “empty spot” ad got attacked across the board, and her latest ad about the “crisis at our southern border” has led to pundits wondering if she wants to build a wall on the border with Tennessee.

Daniel Cameron is also in the headlines as he touts his right-wing work as attorney general. I get press releases from his office almost daily, most of them attacking Beshear or Biden or both, and laying out how Cameron is fighting the “Biden/Beshear agenda.”

Meanwhile, what of Quarles? The only news I hear out of his campaign is the number of endorsements he has gathered from Republican leaders across the state. He’s got a page on his site with a ginormous list of endorsements by elected officials, from the legislature on down. But, there’s no mention of them on his home page.

It seems to me that Quarles is trying to run an old-fashioned ground-game campaign, where he builds support locally through well-known Republicans. He’s not spending money on ads (yet?), and not doing a lot with social media. His opponents, meanwhile, are either trying to build name recognition (Craft) or using their position (Cameron) to add to their own name recognition.

It also seems to me that Quarles’s strategy is a bad one. This isn’t 1960, or even 2010. People don’t care what their elected officials think, and frankly they don’t consider ability or accomplishments. Many voters vote on name recognition or emotional attachment, and Quarles is not building either one.

It’s early days, obviously. And perhaps Quarles is counting on people not really paying attention until a few months from now. If he is, I think it’s a risky strategy. By the time he decides to actually start running, Cameron and Craft are already going to be in the backstretch.

A few months ago, I thought Quarles had a good shot at the Repub nomination – and that he would be the toughest opponent for Beshear. At this point, though, I think he has fallen into the “also ran” category, and the race is between Cameron and Craft.


This post originally was part of the Daily Take series of articles. The Daily Take is a newsletter containing observations and thoughts of publisher Bruce Maples, and is only available to Partners of Forward Kentucky. It is available via email, and is also available on the web site to logged-in Partners. The email version is sent to Partner members who have opted-in to receiving it via the Newsletters section of their profile. To become a Partner-level member and sign up for the Daily Take, click here

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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