Former Trump Amb. Kelly Craft Running for Kentucky Governor Former U.N. Amb Kelly Craft (Patrick Semansky/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 07 September 2022 12:25 PM EDT
Kelly Craft, U.N. ambassador under then-President Donald Trump, announced she is running for Kentucky governor in 2023.
Craft joins a crowded Republican field to challenge Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear, who has strong approval ratings, despite Trump having won the state easily in 2016 and 2020.
"I'm Kelly Craft and I am running for governor of Kentucky because I know our best days are ahead of us," Craft tweeted Wednesday morning.
"Watch my story and join our conservative movement here: KellyCraft.com."
Craft, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, first served as U.S. ambassador to Canada under Trump – playing a role in facilitating the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement – before being named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
She has spent years cultivating connections within the GOP as she and her husband, coal magnate Joe Craft, donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates.
Craft now will focus on her own campaign.
"I am not looking for a job. I'm looking to get one done," her website reads. "There are tough decisions being made every day around kitchen tables in Kentucky. We're in rough times and people need help.
"I will seek to repair the connection between the people and their leadership, to give back to Kentucky a core of honesty and compassion."
Trump in June endorsed Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron's bid for governor in the Bluegrass State.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in late April announced he will enter the 2023 governor's race.
State Auditor Mike Harmon announced last year he will seek the GOP nomination. State Rep. Savannah Maddox also said she is running.
Beshear has won bipartisan praise for his administration's responses to epic natural disasters — tornadoes that tore through western Kentucky last December and historic flooding that inundated parts of eastern Kentucky in late July.
The primary election for Kentucky's governor will be in May 2023.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.