Fancy Farm preview? This summer's big political speeches foreshadow themes for Aug. 3 event

07/13/2013 02:59 PM

There might not be an election this year, but this year’s political speaking event at the Aug. 3 Fancy Farm picnic should be chock full of early campaign themes for at least the next election cycles, if not the next three.

In three weeks, Kentucky’s biggest political names are expected to converge on the small western Kentucky town of Fancy Farm for the annual speaking event at the Catholic parish’s festival.

The 2014 U.S. Senate race of course will be a major undercurrent at the event. It’s the next big race. It’s fresh — with the emergence of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as a candidate on July 1. And it’s getting and will get national attention.

But the prospective candidates for 2015, especially for the open governor’s seat, won’t likely be overshadowed too much.

In that spirit, here are four speeches from major political dinners this summer that could serve as an early draft of what we can expect to hear in both policy and political arguments at Fancy Farm.

U.S. Senate race:

Before U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell knew if he’d draw a big-name Democratic challenger, he gave a tough anti-President Obama speech to the GOP faithful at the June 15 statewide Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner in Lexington.

McConnell said he would Obama’s “worst nightmare” and declared that a win for his sixth term in 2014 would “send a message to Washington that … we’ve had enough of this administration.”

“The record of this administration will be the albatross that my opponent will have to carry toward the finish line next year,” he said. Here’s the bulk of his remarks, minus a video played in the middle of his speech:

Nine days before that at the Democratic Party’s Wendell Ford Dinner, then-prospective candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes offered the strongest hint up to that point that she might jump in the race against McConnell.

Grimes told the crowd that an upset of McConnell would send a different message to Washington: that Kentuckians are tired “28 years of obstruction and misleading leadership.”

“What we are doing here tonight will send a message that Kentucky is ready to have a senator who puts the interest of Kentucky first instead of their own as our senior Senator has done in voting against raising the minimum wage but all the while in 28 years quadrupling his own net worth,” she said.

Here’s her full speech:

2015 Candidates

It’s still early for candidates to announce for governor in 2015 when Gov. Steve Beshear can’t run again.

Scores of prospective candidates are being mentioned for that race and will no doubt be shaking hands in western Kentucky in three weeks. So far, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway was the first statewide official to announce he would speak at the annual event.

But two officials might have to choose between running for re-election in two years and seeking a higher office. Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat, and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican, can seek a second term but are in the conversation for the governor’s race.

At the Democratic dinner last month, Edelen delivered perhaps the best speech of the bunch, outlining for the party faithful the importance of the next three years and the values the party represents. Here’s his nearly eight-minute speech:

Meanwhile, Comer is the only statewide-elected Republican in Frankfort.

In his brief remarks at the statewide Lincoln Day Dinner last month, he used a combination of humor and a pep-rally approach — both common attributes of Fancy Farm speeches — to serve as a bridge speaker between several state legislators and McConnell.

Comer poked fun at the Democratic state House candidate who ultimately won a 25 special election and made a joke about Democrats’ reluctance to challenge McConnell.

Here’s Comer’s two-minute speech:

(Pure Politics will offer more coverage as a preview to the 2013 Fancy Farm over the next three weeks leading up to the Aug. 3 event.)


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