Ryan Francis Quarles (born October 20, 1983) is president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. An American Republican politician, he served as Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky from 2016 to 2024 and in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2011 to 2016.

Ryan Quarles
4th President of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
Assumed office
January 2, 2024
Preceded byPaul Czarapata
Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
In office
January 4, 2016 – January 1, 2024
GovernorMatt Bevin
Andy Beshear
Preceded byJames Comer
Succeeded byJonathan Shell
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 62nd district
In office
January 1, 2011 – January 3, 2016
Preceded byCharlie Hoffman
Succeeded byChuck Tackett
Personal details
Ryan Francis Quarles

(1983-10-20) October 20, 1983 (age 40)
Georgetown, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (BA, MS, MA, JD)
Harvard University (MEd)
Vanderbilt University (EdD)

Early life and education edit

Quarles is a native of Georgetown, Kentucky. He attended Scott County High School and was the valedictorian of the class of 2002.[1] While working on the Quarles family farm, he was an undergraduate triple major (Agriculture Economics, Public Service & Leadership, and Political Science, B.S., '05) and earned masters in Agricultural Economics and in Diplomacy & International Relations ('06) from the nearby University of Kentucky. He graduated summa cum laude with honors.[2] Quarles received a Truman Scholarship, Udall Scholarship, and a scholarship from Toyota.[1] As a Zuckerman Fellow, he was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University (M.Ed., '09).[3] He also attended the University of Kentucky College of Law (J.D., '10).[4]

Republican Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher appointed Quarles to two consecutive terms as a student Council Member on the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.[citation needed]

Political career edit

Kentucky House of Representatives edit

2010 election edit

Quarles ran in 2010 for the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 62nd District. He won a Republican primary with 60% of the vote.[5]

On October 2, 2010, Quarles was arrested in Lexington, Kentucky, for reckless driving. "A police report said Ryan Quarles, 26, was arrested ... about 3:10 a.m. Saturday. Quarles was driving ... through a parking lot, weaving through cars, the uniform citation said. The report said Quarles showed signs of intoxication and had a blood alcohol level of 0.067 when given a breath test. His blood alcohol level was below the legal limit of 0.08."[6] Quarles pleaded guilty in Fayette District Court, and paid a fine after the charge was lowered to careless driving.[7]

In November 2010, Quarles received 8,508 votes (51%) to incumbent state representative Charlie Hoffman's 8,287 (49%), winning by 521 votes. In 2011, he was appointed to the House committees on Agriculture & Small Business, Banking & Insurance, and Education.[8]

2012 and 2014 elections edit

Quarles ran for a second term in 2012. He again defeated Hoffman, 54% to 46%.[9]

Quarles ran for a third term in 2014. He ran in a district redrawn by the Democratic-controlled House to be more Democratic, drawing in territory which had previously not been part of the district. He was made a top target of the Democrats and his opponent, Chuck Tackett, was a Scott County Magistrate. He won by his largest margin of victory, 59% to 41%.[10]

Agriculture Commissioner edit

2015 election edit

Quarles ran for Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture in 2015. He won the Republican nomination against fellow State Representative Richard Heath in a very close election, with 92,700 votes (50.39%), versus 91,273 votes (49.61%) for Heath. He had been endorsed by the incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture, James Comer,[11] and defeated Jean-Marie Lawson Spann in the general election.

2019 election and term edit

Quarles ran for a second term in 2019. He won the Republican primary with 82% of the vote (and was the only Kentucky candidate with a primary challenger to win all of Kentucky's 120 counties), and won the general election with 58% of the vote.[12]

In February 2022, he lost the case of Kentucky Hemp Association vs. Quarles, with Kentucky's Boone Circuit Court declaring Delta-8 to be a legal derivative of hemp, and issuing an injunction against Quarles and Kentucky law enforcement preventing them from taking any action against people for selling Delta-8.[13][14][15] The lawsuit against Quarles was prompted by the Agriculture Commission having issued an advisory opinion that Delta-8 hemp products were not exempted from the federal controlled substances list, which was followed by Kentucky State Police raiding several lawful hemp retail stores in Kentucky and taking a wide variety of hemp products, money, and cameras, and charging store employees with marijuana trafficking.[15]

In June 2022, the Kentucky Attorney General's Office, led by Daniel Cameron, concluded that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture violated Kentucky's open records law by failing to respond to a request for records related to any litigation involving Quarles, or involving the agriculture department during his tenure, that had been made by the Kentucky Democratic party.[16]

2023 gubernatorial campaign edit

In April 2022, Quarles began a run for the Republican 2023 nomination for Governor of Kentucky.[17] In the primary, he ran against a number of Kentucky Republicans, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and state auditor Mike Harmon.[18] Quarles officially filed his candidacy on January 4, 2023.[19]

Quarles campaigned aggressively in rural areas of the state and earned 235 endorsements from local officials.[20] He lost the Republican primary to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, coming in second place with 21 percent of the vote. Despite the loss, he managed to place ahead of Kelly Craft, a former Ambassador to the United Nations who had raised $8.5 million and was endorsed by prominent elected officials such as Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo.[21]

Electoral history edit

Kentucky House of Representatives 62nd District Republican primary election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 2,081 59.99
Republican Ricky Hostetler 1,388 40.01
Kentucky House of Representatives 62nd District Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 8,508 50.66
Democratic Charlie Hoffman 8,287 49.34
Kentucky House of Representatives 62nd District Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles (inc.) 12,408 54.03
Democratic Charlie Hoffman 10,557 45.97
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Republican primary election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 92,700 50.39
Republican Richard Heath 91,271 49.61
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 563,013 60.08
Democratic Jean-Marie Lawson Spann 374,077 39.92
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Republican primary election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 193,994 82.21
Republican Bill Polyniak 41,971 17.79
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Quarles 821,414 58.2
Democratic Robert Haley Conway 545,099 38.6
Libertarian Joshua Gilpin 44,596 3.2

References edit

  1. ^ a b 2015 Kentucky General Assembly Directory, legislature.ky.gov, April 2015.
  2. ^ "Student Named Truman Scholar". University of Kentucky Public Relations. 2005-03-29. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  3. ^ "Ryan Quarles biodata". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Steve Beshear. "Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education – Ryan Quarles Biodata". Cpe.ky.gov. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  5. ^ "Kentucky State Board of Elections: 2010 Primary Election". clarityelections.com. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Hopkins, Shawntaye (October 5, 2010). "Georgetown candidate for state House arrested for reckless driving". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Hopkins, Shawntaye (October 16, 2010). "Candidate to pay fine in careless driving case". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  8. ^ "House District 62". Lrc.ky.gov. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Boggs, Jerry (November 8, 2012). "Thayer, Quarles head back to state legislature". Georgetown News-Graphic. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  10. ^ "Election Results/2010-2019" (PDF). March 2022.
  11. ^ ""Announcement" – Ryan Quarles". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  12. ^ "KY - Election Results". results.enr.clarityelections.com. Archived from the original on 2019-12-02.
  13. ^ Charity Blanton (August 8, 2022). "Delta-8 declared legal in KY after much uncertainty". WPSD Local 6.
  14. ^ "Order"; Kentucky Hemp Association v. Ryan Quarles, Commonwealth of Kentucky Boone Circuit Court (2022).
  15. ^ a b Steve Rogers (July 15, 2021). "Hemp Association takes legal action after raids in Morehead, other places". WTVQ.
  16. ^ "Records case leads to rare agreement among political rivals". Spectrum News. June 4, 2022.
  17. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (April 30, 2022). "GOP's Quarles announces run for Kentucky governor in 2023". Associated Press. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  18. ^ "Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon is running for governor". Louisville Courier Journal. July 12, 2021. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  19. ^ Schweinert, Lexi (January 4, 2023). "Ryan Quarles to officially file for governor race Thursday". WNKY. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  20. ^ Corasaniti, Nick (May 1, 2023). "A Hostile, Under-the-Radar Primary Splinters Republicans". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  21. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (May 16, 2023). "Trump-backed Daniel Cameron to face Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in November". Associated Press. Retrieved May 16, 2023.

External links edit

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
2015, 2019
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
Succeeded by