By STEVE BITTENBANDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary is still more than 10 months away, but already some candidates have amassed large contributions as they try to become the GOP challenger seeking to unseat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear next year.
Three Republicans have already amassed six-figure sums in contributions, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Quarterly reports to KREF were due earlier this week.
Agriculture Secretary Ryan Quarles topped the trio. He reported $574,112 in contributions through the end of June and a balance of $557,669.
Among the early contributors to the Georgetown native’s campaign were Shelby County Judge/Executive Dan Ison, Louisville community philanthropist Ina Brown Bond and Kentucky Farm Bureau CEO John Sparrow. They were among the 168 donors who each contributed $2,000, the maximum allowable to a candidate in a primary or general election.
Mr. Quarles first announced his intent to run in early May, nearly two weeks before state Attorney General Daniel Cameron threw his hat into the ring. Mr. Cameron reported raising $300,521 to the finance registry and having a balance of $286,000.
Through June 30, Mr. Cameron, an Elizabethtown native who now lives in Louisville, received contributions from several influential members of the Louisville business community. Among the 101 who gave Cameron the maximum $2,000 were Jim Patterson, who founded such restaurant chains as Rally’s and Long John Silvers, David Nicklies, a local developer; and Matt Thornton, former president and CEO of Thorntons convenience stores, were among the 101 donors who gave $2,000 for the primary campaign.
State Rep. Savannah Maddox started her campaign last month and, in June, received $110,062 from her contributors. She reported a balance of $108,234.
The Dry Ridge resident had 30 contributions maxing out at $2,000.
State Auditor Mike Harmon, who announced his candidacy last year. For the last quarter, he raised $13,799 and finished with a balance of nearly $18,500.
Eric Deters, a former attorney from Independence, raised $30,960 over the quarter and ended it with $1,293. Mr. Deters planned to run for the GOP nomination but chose to become an independent candidate after Donald Trump endorsed Mr. Cameron last month.
Gov. Beshear reported raising more than $1 million in the last quarter and has a balance of $3.2 million in his campaign chest. The incumbent had 322 donors giving the maximum of $2,000 for the primary. Among those contributing during the quarter were Louisville businessmen Jonathan Blue, chairman and managing director of Blue Equity; Steve Trager, executive chair of Republic Bank; and Craig Greenberg, an attorney and former CEO of 21c Hotels.
Mr. Greenberg is also the Democratic nominee in the Louisville mayoral election taking place this November. Gov. Beshear announced his endorsement of Mr. Greenberg late last month.