Fancy Farm Live Blog
by John Gregory | 08/02/14 2:22 PM
5:00 p.m.: Thanks for following this blog and for watching KET’s coverage. Be sure to visit our Fancy Farm webpage, where we’ll be posting video of all of today’s speeches. And tune in Monday at 8 p.m. for a one-hour recap of highlights of the speeches and commentary.
Watch the full Fancy Farm coverage.
4:55 p.m.: Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, reflects on the speeches. He says there's not much persuasion going on at Fancy Farm, but there is persuasion happening among the people watching on TV in Kentucky and across the United States. Cross contends there is value to candidates having to prove their mettle before a tough Fancy Farm crowd. He also praises emcee Bill Cunningham for putting crowd on notice for bad behavior. He says Grimes' "doesn't care" refrain could be effective, while the GOP refrain that Obama needs Grimes but Kentucky needs McConnell could be equally potent. Finally, Cross says he thought Grimes did exceptionally well, and her national fundraising efforts will benefit from her performance. On the other hand, Cross says McConnell delivered his speech well, but that the writing and pacing of his remarks weren’t up to the senator’s usual standards.
4:47 p.m.: State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach jumps right in on attacks on Sen. Mitch McConnell. Says the incumbent was pro-labor and pro-term limits when he first started in politics. Now, Hollenbach says, McConnell will do anything and say anything to propel himself into power. “He was made hatred of the president a cottage industry.” Then Hollenbach launches into a section about McConnell not being a Kentuckian (he was born in Alabama) and equates the senator to the invasive kudzu vine. Says McConnell wants the Senate race to be about anything other than his 30 years in office.
Watch the full video of Hollenbach’s speech.
4:43 p.m.: Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen now takes the podium with the admonition, “Our politics need to be informed by what we learn on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.” Says it’s Democratic values that women who work full time should be able to feed their families without federal assistance. The future of Kentucky is worth the fight, he says, and calls the GOP platform saccharine cotton candy of worn-out ideas. Says government should be of the people by the people, not of the few for the few.
Watch the full video of Edelen’s speech.
4:37 p.m.: Now Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. He mocks a previous Farm Farm comment from Jack Conway by saying the attorney general’s hide is not a Kentucky Proud product. Says the GOP stands 100 percent united behind coal because coal keeps the light on. Says Republicans are united behind smaller government and a better, more competitive tax code that doesn’t result in jobs being shipped to Texas. On education, Comer says money must be stripped from government bureaucrats and put back where it belongs: in the classroom. Says the state needs a governor who is humble enough to listen and tough enough to achieve. Predicts that the next governor will not be a multimillionaire from Louisville (a reference to GOP candidate Hal Heiner). Comer concludes by saying he will be a candidate for governor in 2015. An official announcement is coming Sept. 9 in his hometown of Tompkinsville.
Watch the full video of Comer’s speech.
4:31 p.m.: Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway begins his speech be sending regards to former Sen. Wendell Ford, who is battling lung cancer. Then Conway moves on to highlight his accomplishments as attorney general. Says the special interest donors to do-nothing politics in Washington will have nothing to do in Frankfort. Says Pres. Obama has advocated policies that are bad for Kentucky, and that Democrats must stand up for state interests when that happens. Mentions his own efforts to do that. Calls McConnell a do-nothing senator who says no to equal pay for equal work, and who says it’s not his job to create jobs in Kentucky. Then says it’s all of our jobs to create jobs because a rising tide lifts all boats. “The cynical special interest dysfunction has to end and Alison Lundergan Grimes is the fresh face to shake that place up.”
Watch the full video of Conway’s speech.
4:25 p.m.: Sen. Rand Paul begins with a Dr. Suess-like poem mocking Alison Grimes on coal and her connections to Sen. Harry Reid. Says Grimes would kill any chance of ever resurrecting the Kentucky coal industry. Asks the crowd if they want a supporter of Obama and Reid to be the next senator? “A vote for Grimes is a vote for the Obama-Reid agenda.” Paul says Pres. Obama needs Grimes to continue to wage war on coal and protect Obamacare, but that Kentucky needs Sen. McConnell to fight for coal jobs and repeal Obamacare. Says there is only one choice to protect Kentucky values and way of life, and that is to re-elect Mitch McConnell.
Watch the full video of Paul’s speech.
4:17 p.m.: Now incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, who calls Fancy Farm the place where Republicans tell it like it is. He criticizes Pres. Obama for not going to Texas border to see the immigration problems there first hand. Says that’s what happens when you elect someone with little experience, which he equates to Grimes’ lack of experience. Says Kentucky is under attack from the Obama administration and it’s time to fight back. McConnell contends Obama needs the U.S. Senate to keep his grip on power. He criticizes the New York media who’ve come to the commonwealth, calling it “foreign travel,”and says east coast liberals make fun of Kentuckians, who they claim are bitter and cling to religion and guns. “There is only one way to change America in 2014, there’s only one way to go in a different direction, and that is to change the Senate and make me the majority leader,” McConnell concludes.
Watch the full video of McConnell’s speech.
4:08 p.m.: Now the U.S. Senate candidates, starting with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Says incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell forgot about most Kentuckians a long time ago, and then equates her age (35) with the senator’s approval rating. “If Mitch McConnell were a TV show, he’d be Mad Men, stuck in 1968, treating women badly, and ending this season.” Uses her line “D.C. stands for doesn’t care,” which becomes the recurring chant in her speech. Makes strong pitch to female voters, bringing up the equal pay issue, calling it not a women’s issue but a family issue. Calls collective bargaining a fundamental right of American workers and a tool for growing the middle class. Notes her new endorsement from the United Mine Workers of America. Says McConnell represents Washington establishment and the past. Grimes argues that Kentucky has felt the pain of a Washington that’s been gridlocked too long. She says it’s time for a senator to represent people of the state, not partisan political interests. Commits to appearing at the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum on Aug. 20 and KET’s Kentucky Tonight candidate program on Oct. 13.
Watch the full video of Grimes’ speech.
4:01 p.m.: Now incumbent Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield. He says the Obama administration has changed America the wrong way. He’s not surprised that people are fed up with the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Cites job losses under Obama, and says the president lied about Obamacare. Says new EPA rules will make America the only country in the world where you can’t build a new coal-fired power plant. Contends that coal regulations will make America less competitive in global markets. (Whitfield’s speech runs long and is cut-off by the music.)
Watch the full video of Whitfield’s speech.
3:53 p.m.: Another coin toss to determine next speakers from the first Congressional district race. The winner is Democratic challenger Charles Hatchett. He says he wants to talk about George Washington, and the stories he heard about the first president when he was a child. He wants politicians to be like Washington and never tell a lie. Hatchett argues God needs to come back into this country, along with Christ-like manners. He says love and jobs will make the world better. Questions why coal gasification isn’t a higher energy priority, as well as more hydro-electric power. He acknowledges Gov. Beshear for giving him health insurance, and then asks what Sen. McConnell has done for him lately. Says Rep. Whitfield and Sen. McConnell have held fundraising events in Hollywood, so it’s not fair to criticize Alison Lundergan Grimes for her fundraising efforts there.
Watch the full video of Hatchett’s speech.
3:48 p.m.: The Democratic challenger in the state House District 2 race, Jesse Wright, says he’s not here to talk about the national parties, he wants to talk about his district. He contends it’s not possible to pay for roads with good intentions; it takes money to put down concrete and asphalt. Wright says he wants to go to bat for farmers and open new markets for their products. He promises to bring industry back to district.
Watch the full video of Wright’s speech.
3:43 p.m.: A coin toss decides the next speaker. The winner is Rep. Richard Heath (R-Mayfield), who is running for reelection in Kentucky House District 2, which includes Graves and McCracken Counties. Heath highlights workforce, education, and business opportunities in his district, but says the Obama White House is preventing the area from reaching its full potential. “Back off EPA and let our coal miners go back to work,” he shouts. Heath also blames the hostile business climate on Democratic leadership of Kentucky House, and blames them for raising the gas tax. Quotes Pres. Reagan by saying liberal friends aren’t ignorant, but what they know isn’t true. Heath argues it’s imperative to flip the state House and elect McConnell majority leader of the U.S.
Watch the full video of Heath’s speech.
3:35 p.m.: State Senator Stan Humphries (R-Cadiz) takes the stage. He says he’s eager to work with Gov. Beshear after Republicans take control of Kentucky House. Humphries calls Alison Lundergan Grimes “a young lady who has never passed a single piece of legislation.”
Watch the full video of Humphries’ speech.
3:28 p.m.: Before beginning his speech, Gov. Steve Beshear takes selfie with Sen. Mitch McConnell, saying its his last opportunity to be with McConnell before the senator is retired. Beshear argues that Kentuckians are tired of dysfunctional government in Washington, which he attributes to the senator. He says Republicans in state government have a record of voting against progressive ideas. “If Republicans take control of the House, they will run the state like Mitch runs Washington…. that won’t be good for Kentucky just like it’s not good for the United States of America.”
Watch the full video of Beshear’s speech.
3:20 p.m. Fancy Farm emcee and Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham says coming to the picnic is a chance to brush shoulders with history. He says today’s crowd sets attendance record and he reminds those in attendance that they are guests of St. Jerome Parish. He asks them to be courteous and respectful of speakers. “When you approve of something someone says, cheer. When you don’t like what they say, boo. And then shut up and let them go on with their speech.” Cunningham announces that noisemakers and incessant chants are forbidden. He warns that he has law enforcement ready to “drop the hammer” on those who misbehave.
3:18 p.m.: Mark Wilson reminds the assembled crowd that Fancy Farm is a fundraiser for the St. Jerome Parish, and that the church is interested in the hereafter: “Your money is what we’re here after.”
3:15 p.m.: Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Shea Nickell of Paducah sings a rousing rendition of “My Old Kentucky” while April Jewell belts out the National Anthem.
3:10 p.m.: Catholic leaders Bishop William Medley of Owensboro and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz offer invocations to the crowd.
3:00 p.m.: Mark Wilson, Political Committee Chairman for the Fancy Farm picnic, welcomes the crowd, speakers, and media to the event.
2:57 p.m.: On Kentucky House races, Moore says Kentucky is the only state in the South with a Democratic majority in one legislative chamber. Says we're not hearing GOP talking much about flipping the House this year. Robertson says this will be a big year all the way around for Republicans with a competitive effort to take control of the state House.
2:45 p.m.: Robertson says the Republican grassroots campaign is well underway. GOP volunteers knocked on 300,000 doors last week. He believes Republicans are coming together after the primary challenge from from Senate candidate Matt Bevin, and conservative Democrats are moving toward the GOP as well. Moore says Fancy Farm gets voters focused on the race heading into the fall campaign. She says Grimes must switch from her successful fundraising efforts to working on strong ground game.
2:38 p.m.: With only a one-point lead among female voters in latest Bluegrass Poll, Moore says Grimes must work hard to earn the women’s vote, calling it critical to a Grimes victory. Robertson says Sen. McConnell understands that women care about the economy, and how EPA rules are hurting coal jobs. He says the incumbent is running his campaign on Kentucky issues, not just women’s issues.
2:35 p.m.: Jennifer Moore says it’s the biggest Fancy Farm crowd since Al Gore came in 1992. She says there was bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to picnic grounds. Steve Robertson says he’s looking forward to a kinder, gentler Fancy Farm crowd that the organizers have been talking about. Calls the event a political rite of passage for candidates.
2:20 p.m.: We’re about 10 minutes away from the start of KET’s live coverage of Fancy Farm 2014. Renee Shaw and Bill Goodman will host, and Jennifer Moore, former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, and Steve Robertson, current chair of the Kentucky Republic Party, will provide analysis. If you can’t watch on TV, follow our webstream at KET.org/fancyfarm.