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Kentucky GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft campaigns on anti-trans platform in Louisville

Danielle Kaye
Gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft talks to supporters at a campaign rally in Louisville on April 10

With a little more than five weeks left until Kentucky’s primary election, Republican candidate for governor Kelly Craft stopped in Louisville on Monday to say she’s placing an anti-trans platform at the center of her gubernatorial campaign.

“We keep our sports fair, that we keep them safe and healthy,” Craft said during a small rally at Impellizeri’s Pizza in Middletown.

Craft spoke alongside Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who has been outspoken against trans athletes participating in women’s sports since competing against trans swimmer Lia Thomas. Last year, Thomas became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship.

“She was born to be here for every young girl and woman in our country, and to make certain that we keep our sports fair,” Craft said when introducing Gaines.

Craft, a long-time Republican fundraiser, has never held elected office, though she served as United States ambassador to Canada and to the United Nations during the Trump administration. When she announced her candidacy in September, she joined a crowded race of Republicans trying to beat Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in 2023.

The Kentucky Legislature passed a ban on trans women participating in girls and women’s sports last year and this year lawmakers approved an omnibus anti-trans billthat bans gender-affirming care for minors, and requires schools to adopt so-called “bathroom ban” policies.

Policies surrounding trans athletes have become hot-button issues across the country. Trans rights advocates maintain that barring trans women from competing on teams that align with their gender identity is discriminatory.

Just last week, the Biden administration released proposed changes to Title IX rules that would forbid schools and colleges across the U.S. from enacting outright bans on trans athletes.

But Biden’s plan includes some exceptions and some trans rights advocates have criticized Biden’s proposal, arguing that the plan essentially provides legal recourse for schools to prevent some trans athletes from competing.

Craft’s Louisville rally drew in dozens of supporters. It was just one stop on her tour of mom and pop restaurants across the state – a political campaign she’s calling “Kelly’s Kitchen Table Tour.”

The rally was held just hours after a mass shooting in downtown Louisville. At least five people were killed.

Craft and Gaines both expressed condolences to the families of those killed. But when asked about how she would address gun violence as governor, Craft declined to share any plans.

“I don’t think today is an appropriate time to be talking about anything other than the loss of these lives and those who are in critical condition,” Craft said, refraining from mentioning any gun control measures.