(CNN) Daniel Cameron will win the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor, CNN projects.
The state attorney general, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and is vying to become the state’s first Black governor, was widely viewed as the frontrunner.
Kelly Craft, who has the backing of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, served as the US ambassador to Canada and then to the United Nations under Trump and is the wife of billionaire coal magnate Joe Craft, had pumped millions of dollars into television ads in the race. And state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has courted conservatives in rural areas of the Bluegrass State, emerging from a pack of 10 additional candidates to gain significant traction.
At the center of the primary battle is Trump, who is seeking to once again demonstrate his influence on Republican primary voters as the party’s 2024 presidential race takes shape.
The former president endorsed Cameron — who had a prime speaking slot at the 2020 Republican National Convention and has been viewed by many in the GOP as a rising star — in June 2022, even though Craft, who worked in his administration, was considering entering the race.
Trump spoke briefly at a tele-rally for Cameron on Sunday evening.
“He’s a great guy. Again, I’ve known him right from the beginning of his career. I’ve been with him all the way and now he’s doing this and I have no doubt he’s going be a fantastic governor,” Trump said.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a 2024 Republican presidential contender who endorsed Craft and campaigned with her in Lexington on Monday, said in an interview the race is “a prequel of what’s to come” in the presidential primary.
He said Craft has “an outsider mentality” and could rock the GOP establishment by defeating Cameron.