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Trump, Cruz stump for GOP gubernatorial candidates ahead of Ky. primary election

Gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft talks to supporters at a campaign rally in Louisville on April 10.
Danielle Kaye
Five GOP candidates for governor participate in a live debate on KET ahead of the gubernatorial primary election.

Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary is Tuesday, May 16. In the days leading up to the election, GOP frontrunners have been bringing in big-name Republican figures to make their final pitches to voters.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft – the two presumptive frontrunners in the Republican primary – tried to galvanize voters by campaigning alongside major national GOP figures on the weekend before the election.

Cameron, who is in the lead according to recent polling, was joined by former president Donald Trump for a tele-rally on Sunday. Trump endorsed Cameron for the gubernatorial nomination, even though Craft worked in his presidential administration.

“I’ve known him right from the beginning of his career, I’ve known him all the way,” Trump said at the tele-rally. “He is going to take you to a level that you haven’t seen in a long time.”

Last week, a federal jury found former President Donald Trump liable for battery and defamation. The jurors agreed Trump sexually abused and defamed writer E. Jean Carroll.

When asked at a debate last week whether he would continue to support Trump in the 2024 presidential primary in light of this verdict, Cameron avoided the question, saying the details of the verdict are still unclear.

Craft, who has escalated her anti-transgender rhetoric in the lead-up to the election, campaigned with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

“She’s got guts, she’s a fighter, and this is a time when we need a fighter in the governor’s mansion,” Cruz said at the rally.

Craft is also expected to host a campaign rally with 2024 presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy on Monday, one day before the election.

A poll released last month by Emerson College and FOX 56 indicated Craft has cut into Cameron’s lead, now trailing behind him by just six percentage points. The poll placed Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in third place. But a new Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll released on Sunday showed Cameron with a 15-point lead over Craft.

After some car trouble, Quarles spent the final weekend before the primary election making 31 campaign stops across the state. He argues that his campaign has more “grassroots” support than the top two contenders in the GOP race.

That could be helpful in a race where no federal races are happening, and few voters are expected to cast ballots.

There are 12 candidates running to be the Republican nominee for governor. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has two minor challengers, and is expected to win the Democratic nomination.

While Election Day is May 16, some voters, including Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, have already cast their ballots in early voting.

Adams warned of an incredibly low voter turnout, predicting 10% to 20% turnout at the polls.

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