Most memorable moments from an otherwise lethargic Fancy Farm

08/02/2015 01:46 PM

FANCY FARM — The 135th annual Fancy Farm political speaking event did not draw the most energized crowds, but there were moments from the stage which drew cheers and jeers from the partisan on-lookers.

McConnell flips the script

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell returned to Fancy Farm as the majority leader of the U.S. Senate just a year after Gov. Steve Beshear predicted McConnell’s unseating.

Beshear memorably snapped a selfie with the incumbent senator in 2014, remarking that he “wanted one last photo of the senator before Kentuckians retire him in November.”

Calling Beshear to the podium, it was McConnell who used a signed copy of that photo to wish the term-limited governor a happy retirement.

“Steve — enjoy your retirement — I’ll still be working! Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader U.S. Senate,” McConnell inscribed the photo.

Emcee Matt Jones takes on an absent U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

Fancy Farm emcee Matt Jones, who is known for his radio program on University of Kentucky athletics, tossed grenades from the podium at both sides of the aisle. It was Jones’ remarks on Paul, who was in Iowa campaigning for president at the time, that drew the most reaction from the crowd.

“Rand Paul is busy — he has a presidential race to lose. He has to make sure to take care of that,” Jones said.

With Paul in Iowa, Jones joked that the Kentucky senator might be shucking corn.

“Rand look at me — look into the camera. You’re not going to win. You’re not gonna win. The crazy people are voting for Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. You’re not gonna win,” Jones said. “Just come on back and join us here in the state.”

Jones’ remarks had Paul’s team at the picnic scrambling to blunt the criticisms of the state’s junior U.S. senator.

“To suggest that Senator Paul, someone with nearly perfect attendance in the Senate, is anything but completely committed to the job he was elected to do is a blatant disregard for his strong record of defending and supporting the values and issues important to all Kentuckians,” Paul spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said in a statement handed to the media following the speeches.

Cooper said the Paul has been busy in recent months working on economic freedom zone legislation for impoverished areas of the state, and working on disaster relief efforts after recent bouts of flooding in eastern Kentucky.

McConnell, speaking to reporters at the Graves County pre-Fancy Farm GOP breakfast, reiterated his support of Paul’s presidential candidacy and said he did not blame Paul for skipping the Kentucky tradition to campaign in Iowa, an early primary state.

“We all know he’s running for president and I understand that it’s important for presidential candidates to go to the early states, so I don’t think it’s a problem for him,” McConnell said.

Owning the punch line

First-time statewide candidate Republican Whitney Westerfield has come under fire over a 2007 pedicure. Personnel records first reported on by Pure Politics suggest he missed an arraignment as a part-time assistant commonwealth’s attorney early in his career for the foot and toe treatment. Westerfield’s supervisor Lynn Pryor told Pure Politics that she could not remember a time he missed court or an arraignment.

Westerfield’s Democratic opponent Andy Beshear went on the attack over the “well trimmed and polished” toes of the Hopkinsville attorney, and state Senator.

But it was Westerfield who owned the attack and used it in his speech.

“I did cut it pretty close Andy. I did have a pedicure at lunch, but you know what, I’m ready to go toe-to-toe with you right now,” Westerfield said.

Avoiding the punchlines

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin avoided the punchlines and focused on the uniting factors in a speech which will likely be remembered more for his break from the norms, than the substance within.

Bevin told reporters on the day before his speech he would focus on the more cerebral factors, and he attempted that by calling on the crowd to join him in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“This is just a simple piece of cloth. It’s just three simple colors, but what it represents is far more powerful than that. … It represents great sacrifice,” Bevin said.

“We proved just a moment ago that we can save ourselves from falling — we can be united. I challenge you to recognize you can boo all you want, but it doesn’t solve the things that face us in this country.”

Edelen cites the gospels against the GOP

Incumbent Auditor Adam Edelen’s speech was fiery in its elements, but balanced in his call to solve problems in a bipartisan fashion. As he has shown in recent year’s Edelen has a knack for public speaking unparalleled by speakers on either side of the aisle.

Edelen defended himself from an attack by his Republican opponent Rep. Mike Harmon, but the remarks all sought to speak to the battle of values and philosophy between the Democrats and Republicans as a group.

“Family values, friends, are the way we communicate our commitment to one another though sacrifice,” Edelen said. “Through understanding the lessons of Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings that we are our brothers keeper. That in a civil society we truly owe something to one another. Folks that’s what’s at stake this Election.

“Kicking half a million Kentuckians off the insurance roles with the stroke of a pen is callous and it’s not Christian,” he said, turning his attention to the Republicans on stage. “Maybe this side of the aisle should put down the books of Ayn Rand and pick up the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

Bevin, in explaining his decision to eschew attacks and one-liners in his Fancy Farm speech, pointed specifically to Edelen’s remarks as an example of the partisan jostling that takes place in the far western Kentucky hamlet of Fancy Farm.

“This is not good for Kentucky,” the GOP gubernatorial nominee told reporters after the political speeches. “It’s not a partisan issue. It’s not a Republican or Democrat thing. It’s irresponsible, it’s wrong and it’s why we are not the best version of ourselves that we could be, and this was a reason why I wanted to focus on a vision moving forward and why we are more alike than we are apart.”

Additional reporting by political reporter Kevin Wheatley.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Paul campaigned in New Hampshire on Saturday. He was in Iowa.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



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