Sharp elbows as Fancy Farm looks ahead to 2019

08/04/2018 04:39 PM

FANCY FARM — The 138th annual Fancy Farm picnic and political speaking featured sharp jabs surrounding the upcoming gubernatorial elections, a full year and a half before Kentuckians go to the polls.

Teachers packed the pavilion on the Democratic side with chants of “120 Strong,” and a promise to remember in November the actions of the Republican majority party during the legislative session. The state House of Representatives is up for grabs once again, and the Kentucky Democratic Party is trying to win back seats lost in the 2016 election, as Republicans fight to hold on to their new found super majority.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, the youngest statewide elected official in the country, served as emcee of the event. The Republican took shots at the Democrats on the stage, though the newly energized crowd shouted back from the pavilion.

Quarles laid out the ground rules for the event, which harkened back to 2009 when the former Attorney General reminded the crowd of his toughness.

“Always remember the Jack Conway rule, no cursing — remember this is a church picnic,” Quarles said.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, the only candidate who has announced a run for governor in 2019, welcomed the attacks on him from the Republicans on stage often standing and engaging the Democrats in the crowd in cheers.

As Beshear took the stage, Republicans chanted “Longmeyer,” a nod to the former Deputy Attorney General and Personnel Cabinet Secretary serving time for bribery. Beshear engaged the crowd in a call-and-answer response aimed at Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, telling Bevin, “You are not Kentucky.” Bevin did not attend the annual event.

“At the end of the day, a governor should bring us together and not divide us,” he said.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is also contemplating her future in statewide politics, also took aim at Bevin from the stage and stoked her name ahead of the 2019 statewide races.

“People are sweating here today like Matt Bevin at a KEA meeting,” she said.

The shots at the GOP governor continued from Grimes taking shots and stoking the fire of a potential run next year. Grimes is term-limited in her current spot as Secretary of State.

“Let’s face it, Matt Bevin is heartless. He’s the type of guy that think the handmaids tale is a romantic comedy,” she continued, adding he can’t win in 2019. “Big rumor is Matt Bevin is joining the Trump administration. I had no idea he spoke Russian.”

Grimes said she dreams of speaking from the Fancy Farm stage in 2019 and said that’s a dream that will come true.

The Lexington Democrat also taking a veiled shot at Beshear announcing his run during this year of House races, reminded Democrats “2018 comes before 2019.”

Former Auditor Adam Edelen was not on the stage, but working the grounds of the picnic. House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins also worked the picnic grounds on Saturday. Adkins was joined at the picnic, and the night before Fancy Farm Mike Miller Bean Supper by Rep. Russ Meyer, D-Nicholasville. Adkins side-stepped questions about Meyer as a potential Lt. Governor candidate when asked by Pure Politics on Friday.

Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, also appeared at the night before Fancy Farm event, provoking more speculation about a potential entrance into the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, hit some federal policy points in his speech remarking hemp, on the number of federal judges confirmed and the push to confirm conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

McConnell also remarked on being harassed by some while dining in Louisville, and followed in Washington D.C.

“I never thought I’d have to defend Capitalism here in America,” McConnell quipped about the increased support from some for Democratic Socialism.

McConnell avoided talking about President Trump in his speech, but did use the president’s campaign slogan “make America great again.”

U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, was among the few on the stage facing an electoral challenge this year. The Republican former agriculture commissioner is facing his first re-election to the Congressional seat, and promoted his work on Capitol Hill promoting federal tax cuts.

Congressman Comer also promoted a work-requirement for federal food stamps that was inserted into the Farm Bill, the $860 billion legislation that delivers crop subsidies, rural development and agricultural research as well as SNAP benefits.

“If you are sick and tired of political correctness, then vote for Comer for Congress,” he said, while calling for work requirements for “able-bodied men” seeking food stamps.

Comer faces Democratic nominee Paul Walker, who started his speech calling for “more able-bodied men in Congress.”

Congress is trying to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. The Senate version did not include the work requirements imposed in the House version.

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