In pre-Fancy Farm shots, political parties telegraph their potential gimmicks

07/18/2011 03:35 PM

Whether it’s a pair of Jack Conway flip-flops, or a Rand Paul policy waffle, Fancy Farm is known as much for its gimmicks as the political speeches.

Today, in a web video and news releases, the Republican Party of Kentucky and the Kentucky Democratic Party dropped hints about potential tactics they’ll use in three weeks at the political speaking portion of the 2011 Fancy Farm picnic.

The Republican Party released a 47-second web video criticizing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s use of the state airplanes and helicopters to various events, portraying Beshear as having a good old time as governor.

The ad goes on to blame Beshear for economic mismanagement based on a list by Forbes Magazine, which last week also named Louisville and Lexington as cities with a good business climate.

And the ad takes Beshear to task for approving $20 million in economic incentives to bring a NASCAR race to the Kentucky Speedway. However, the GOP nominee for governor, state Senate President David Williams, was among 35 senators who voted “yes” on the bill that authorized those incentives in June 2009.

Holly Harris VonLuehrte, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said the ad is in the same “spirit” as what the party is planning to unveil at Fancy Farm.

“You can expect a lot of activity from the RPK at Fancy Farm and this web ad is in the spirit of that activity,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Democrats continued their call for Williams to release his personal tax returns by urging him to pack them in his overnight bag to Fancy Farm.

“Last year, Rand Paul brought the tax code with him to Fancy Farm. This year, David Williams needs to bring his tax returns,” the Democratic Chairman Dan Logsdon said in a news release on Monday.

Democrats have called on Williams to make public his most recent tax returns since before the May primary election. The Herald-Leader reported that Williams’ tax returns in his 2002 divorce filings included gambling losses.

Williams has argued against allowing expanded gambling in Kentucky. And while he has acknowledged he gambled at casinos in the past, he has said that doesn’t change his position and told reporters he has stopped going to casinos.

Matt Erwin, a spokesman for the KDP, said the Democrats were only giving Williams a tip.

“We’re just offering a piece of advice,” he said. He declined to say how party activists might raise that issue during the political speaking event at the Aug. 6 picnic.

In response, VonLuehrte dismissed the Democrats “advice” to Williams, calling it old news.

“That’s the oldest story out there and has nothing to do with David Williams’ ability to lead,” she said.

But at the Fancy Farm picnic, anything goes.

At the 1996 picnic, Republicans yelled “Tally ho!” at Beshear — the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — as a reference his membership at a fox hunting club.

In 2003, Republicans rolled out the seven dwarfs to try to poke fun at Democratic candidate for governor Ben Chandler, while Democrats used a life-sized “Job Terminator” character that was supposed to be Republican Ernie Fletcher.

And last year, Democrats set up a cardboard Waffle House outside the stage to poke fun at Rand Paul, while Republicans held signs mocking Democrat Jack Conway for using strong language during his remarks the year before.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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