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GOP gubernatorial candidate Craft calls for 'dismantling' Kentucky education agency in new ad

Three people carrying backpacks labeled "woke bureaucrats"
Kelly Craft campaign video
A still from GOP candidate for governor Kelly Craft's ad claiming that "woke bureaucrats" are invading Kentucky public schools.

Kelly Craft and political groups that support her have been flooding the airwaves in recent months, trying to build her name recognition as this year’s primary election nears.

“Woke bureaucrats” parachuting into Kentucky classrooms to impose so-called “critical race theory” lessons on children.

That’s what Republican candidate for governor Kelly Craft says is going on in Kentucky in a new commercial as she continues her advertising blitz with five weeks to go until the primary election.

“Our schools are under attack. Woke bureaucrats are parachuting in to hijack our children’s future,” Craft says in the ad as computer-generated figures descend from the sky onto a playground.

“As governor, I’ll dismantle the Department of Education and start fresh. Because these are our children, not the government’s.”

The commercial is the latest salvo from the former ambassador to the United Nations and Canada as she tries to boost her name recognition ahead of the May 16 primary election. Craft is centering her campaign on opposition to inclusive education policies, especially guidance dealing with race and LGBTQ students.

In a statement, Jason Glass, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, pointed out that the governor doesn’t have the authority to dismantle the agency.

“We are focused on improving the learning experiences of all our students in a way that supports their ability to compete in an automated, fast-moving, global economy. The question Kentuckians should consider is what effect attention-seeking politicians will have on our educator workforce crisis and other real challenges facing our community’s public schools,” he said.

According to the most recent public polling on the primary race, Craft trails behind Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and established himself as a foil to incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear throughout their first terms in office.

As the presumptive front-runner, Cameron has been slow to join the political advertising fray, focusing his messaging against Beshear while largely ignoring the crowded race of Republicans seeking the nomination.

Cameron released his first political commercial of the campaign on Wednesday, touting his role suing Beshear for attempting to shut down public gatherings at churches and other venues early on during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kentucky deserves a governor who respects our laws and our freedoms. A governor who knows only liberty creates prosperity and only faith can keep us strong,” Cameron says in the commercial.

Meanwhile, a political action committee supporting Craft’s campaign has been lobbing attack ads in Cameron’s direction in recent weeks, slighting him as a "soft, establishment teddy bear” and "soft-on-crime teddy bear.”

Cameron responded to the attack ads last month, calling Craft’s campaign “desperate” in astatement on Twitter.

“One desperate campaign continues to attack me one teddy bear at a time, but Kentuckians can see through the mud AND the stuffed animals. I am the law and order candidate in this race and I am proud to have the backing of so many law enforcement,” he said.

Eric Hyers, Beshear’s campaign manager, issued the following statement.

“While the GOP is pouring millions into attacking each other and absurd ads like these, Governor Andy Beshear has been working hard to create jobs, help our state recover from natural disasters and an historic pandemic, and rebuild infrastructure all across Kentucky. That’s why polls consistently show he is one of the most popular governors in the country, and has the support of Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth,” Hyers wrote.

April 17 is the last day to register to vote in the primary.

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