Bunning out, McConnell in at Fancy Farm; GOP hoping for national speaker

06/28/2010 04:23 PM

UPDATED: Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, who endorsed Rand Paul in April to be his successor, won’t attend the political speaking event at the Fancy Farm picnic Aug. 7. But U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who backed Paul’s primary opponent, will be there to support Paul, organizers said.

Mark Wilson, co-chairman of the political speaking portion of the annual event in far west Kentucky, said McConnell was the first statewide official to confirm that he’d attend the event, which is the traditional kick-off to the fall election season.

Bunning’s staff also notified organizers that the retiring senator wouldn’t be able to make it, Wilson said.

Neither Paul nor Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway have responded to the invitations yet. But statewide candidates rarely, if ever, skip the picnic at St. Jerome Catholic Church.

UPDATE 8:49 p.m.: Wilson sent an email to reporters late Monday night confirming that Democratic Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson have said they’ll be there to speak. Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who has said he’s considering running for governor or lieutenant governor in next year’s Republican primary, will not attend, according to Wilson’s list.

State Rep. Jeff Hoover, the Republican leader of the state House, is scheduled to be master of ceremonies for the political speaking.

Both political parties also put on pep-rally-like breakfasts the day of the picnic for activists.

The lineup for the Democratic Party’s breakfast hasn’t been set yet.

The Republicans, this year, have invited a Republican congressional leader as the keynote speaker but haven’t heard back yet, said Patricia Vincent, chairwoman of the Graves County Republican Party.

McConnell, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield and state Senate President David Williams already have confirmed that they will speak at the GOP breakfast, Vincent said. Organizers are waiting back to hear if the congressional leader, whom Vincent declined to name, accepts the invitation before selecting the emcee of the breakfast, she said.

Vincent said she expects Paul will attend but hasn’t heard back yet. And so far, the U.S. Senate race has generated little buzz even among party activists in the month since the May 18 primary.

“I don’t hear a lot of discussion about it. Not yet,” she said. “Since the primary, it’s actually been pretty quiet.”

But, she said, it likely won’t be like that once Fancy Farm rolls around.

- Ryan Alessi

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