GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles officially kicked off his 2023 gubernatorial campaign on Wednesday, noting his rural background and pledging to unify the state if he were elected.

Quarles chose the courthouse plaza in his homeland of Scott County to begin pitching his platform and presenting himself to voters across the Bluegrass State.

“Only in America can a farm kid who grew up in the tobacco field aspire to one day run for governor,” Quarles told his supporters.

He touted his conservative credentials, including his opposition to abortion and his support for gun ownership rights.

The event comes about a month after Quarles announced he would seek Kentucky’s top political office next year. He is one of a growing list of candidates vying for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.

Quarles, a former state legislator now in his second term as agriculture commissioner, has long been considered a candidate for governor. He will try to capitalize on his name recognition in rural GOP strongholds in what promises to be a fiercely competitive Republican primary next year.

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Others already in the gubernatorial race on the GOP side include Attorney General Daniel Cameron, state auditor Mike Harmon and retired attorney Eric Deters. Several other Republicans are considering bids for governor. Their jockey for advantage could eclipse this year’s election in Kentucky.

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