Fancy Farm 2015 Live Blog
Thanks for watching our Fancy Farm coverage. We’ll air a one-hour highlights program Monday night at 8 on KET. To see videos of the individual speeches, visit our Fancy Farm page.
Al Cross says this wasn’t the most entertaining Fancy Farm he’s attended. He notes the anti-Fancy Farm speech that Matt Bevin delivered, while the other Republicans launched more of the attacks on Conway. He thinks Republicans didn’t coordinate what they were going to say, while Democrats sounded like they did. “We all enjoy the great give and take of Fancy Farm, but we know some of the rhetoric goes over the top… It is political theater,” says Cross. Bevin doesn’t go for that, he adds.
If Bevin loses this race, Cross says, then some Republicans see a future for Comer in the 2019 gubernatorial race. He says McConnell and Bevin clearly are not buddies. There is still work to be done on that front, and Bevin still needs to work to gain the support of the Comer people, Cross says.
Cross says emcee Matt Jones was very entertaining if not long-winded, and maybe had a few remarks went too far. He says Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen had one of the best lines of the day, who said the elections aren’t about who is in the White House but who is in your house. And Cross says McConnell had a good joke at Beshear’s expense over the selfie the governor took of the two of them last year.
And the last speaker is Rep. Rick Nelson. He says it’s the first time he’s been called a liberal politician. That’s ironic, he says since his NRA rating is higher than Ball’s. Says the Treasurer’s office deserves a candidate with life and work experience appropriate to the job. He touts his experience as a school teacher and state legislator. He praises the work ethic his coal-mining father and grocery-clerk mother instilled in him.
Current Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach passes on his opportunity to speak. Republican candidate Allison Ball is up. She says she is the “good Allison” on the ballot. She mocks Grimes by saying her father never gave her a sweet deal on a bus, and she’s not been endorsed by Hollywood liberals. She says both Treasurer candidates have eastern Kentucky backgrounds, but she’s the only one with a financial background. As a bankruptcy attorney, she says she knows what real people are going through. She criticizes her opponent, state Rep. Rick Nelson, for supporting debt-increasing policies during his tenure in the General Assembly.
Adam Edelen opens by saying the backlog of untested rape kits must be addressed. He credits Sen. McConnell for pushing for funding to help resolve the problem. Edelen goes on to credit his parents for giving him good family values. He says kicking thousands of Kentuckians off their insurance is not Christian. He says the Republican candidates should put down their Ayn Rand and pick up the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Says the race is about the main stream versus the extreme.
State Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville is the Republican candidate for state auditor. He touts his endorsement by Kentucky Right to Life. He mocks both Democratic incumbent Adam Edelen as well as gubernatorial candidate Conway. He says the Republican candidates will win this fall and help GOP candidates in 2016 take the state House.
Now Republican Steve Knipper of Erlanger. He says Grimes gave a passionate speech, but that you have to be in office to accomplish things. He says Grimes was gone half the time running for Senate. He also mocks Grimes for not know what the so-called Iron Dome in Israel is. He says he wants to re-do the office of Secretary of State and he will work with his fellow Republicans to ensure that Kentucky looks much different in the future.
It’s time for the Secretary of State candidates. Incumbent Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is up first. She likens Matt Bevin to Donald Trump because neither one will be elected to office. She says she and Sen. McConnell agree on something – that Bevin is an East Coast con man. She says the Democratic slate is pure Kentuckian. Grimes touts the accomplishments she’s made during her first term in office. She says she tried last year to help clean up Washington, but there were a hundred-million reasons why that didn’t happen. She calls this a fight for the state she loves and a fight for Democratic values.
Now state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Republican candidate for attorney general. He opens with a joke about getting a pedicure at lunch, but that he’s ready to go toe-to-toe with Beshear. He says voting for Democrats is voting for Obama loving liberals who are driving Kentucky into the ground. Westerfield touts his legislative accomplishments and contrasts them to Beshear representing corporate clients he won’t disclose. Westerfield says religious freedoms should be protected along with the public officials who chose to exercise them.
Now Democratic Attorney General candidate, Andy Beshear. He says his father, Gov. Steve Beshear, raised him on polling data and Comment on Kentucky. He says the state’s next attorney general needs to be respected by his peers, not reprimanded by his boss. Says his priorities are protecting children from the epidemic of child abuse, ending the spread of illegal drugs and improving treatment, and protecting seniors for scams and abuse.
Now Rep. Ryan Quarles, making his first appearance at Fancy Farm as a candidate. He says Kentucky deserves a commissioner with a “real farm background.” He says shoveling manure as a kid prepared him to enter politics. Says he will continue to grow the Kentucky Proud program and open new markets for food products produced in the state. He says Spann voted for Obama, who decimated the coal industry and is now after family farms with new water regulations. He says he won’t fight Obama Administration regulations because it’s politically expedient but because it’s the right thing to do. Quarles concludes by saying he’s “field ready and farm tested.”
Now Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Jean-Marie Lawson Spann. She notes that she’s an eighth generation Kentucky farm-woman. Calls her opponent, GOP state Rep. Ryan Quarles, a “young fella” with an Ivy League degree. Spann notes her agricultural credentials, and her plan to open regional offices across the state. She says the commissioner’s office and it’s activities touch all Kentuckians. She concludes by saying she’s Kentucky born and Kentucky proud.
Now Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. He notes that this is final speech as commissioner. He thanks the crowd for giving him the opportunity to do a job he loves. He notes efforts to expand farming in the commonwealth, especially with industrial hemp. He says Kentucky can be better if you vote for “this side of the aisle” as he points to the Republican candidates.
Jones asks the crowd to cheer the fact that the first African American woman will speak at Fancy Farm – Jenean Hampton, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Hampton says she might be something people haven’t seen before: a black conservative. She says she rose from the wreckage of the inner city by rejecting voices that told her she was a victim.
She says she wants to see Kentucky thrive and prosper. She wants businesses to come and stay her, and our children to find opportunities here. Hampton says Matt Bevin knows about starting jobs and that the two of them “are Kentucky.”
Now the lieutenant governor candidates, starting with Democrat Rep. Sannie Overly. She says the line for barbeque at Fancy Farm is as long as Matt Bevin’s nose. She says he doesn’t know Kentucky and that he’s not right for the state. She criticizes the Republican for not releasing his tax returns, for not supporting early childhood education, for opposing a minimum wage increase, and for threatening to take thousands off the insurance rolls. She mixes her metaphors by likening Bevin to “a fox in the hen house” and then says he “lies like a dog on the porch.”
Now Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen. Says she’s worked with seven Kentucky governors so she knows what it takes to move the state forward. And Jack Conway has what it takes, Luallen says. She says Bevin may be a good salesman but that the state can’t afford what he’s selling. Luallen says the race isn’t about who is in the White House, but who is your own house.
Bevin takes his turn at the microphone. He says he’s discouraged how this process celebrates the divisions and worst elements in politics. He leads the audience in the pledge of allegiance. He says the U.S. flag embodies the sacrifice of Americans. He says booing doesn’t solve the problems facing the country.
Bevin says prosperity is not a Republican or Democratic ideal. Nor are good paying jobs, quality education, teacher freedom, better treatment for veterans, honoring pension obligations, or reliable health care. Says we are all Kentucky despite our divisions.
Bevin describes himself to the crowd, including by saying he’s a sinner saved by the grace of God. He references his children before being played off by the University of Kentucky fight song.
Bevin wins the candidate coin toss and elects to speak after Conway.
Conway opens with a cockfighting joke, then moves on to note his own western Kentucky roots. Conway touts his accomplishments in office, and says his top priority as governor will be “jobs, jobs, and good paying jobs.” He says he’s from Kentucky and has a plan for the state. Then Conway says Bevin is from New Hampshire and had to leave the northeast because of tax delinquency notices.
Conway says Bevin thinks early childhood education serves no purpose and will deplete public school funding. He will take health insurance away and oppose an increase to the minimum wage. “That’s not Kentucky,” Conway says. Then Conway lists several instances where he says Bevin lied about big and small things. He says Kentucky families need someone they can trust.
Now it’s Gov. Steve Beshear’s turn. Touts accomplishments as governor, especially in economic development, health care, the budget surplus. Says Kentucky’s momentum is at risk. He says Bevin wants to take the state back to the 19th century. Says the state’s signature industry will change from horse racing to cockfighting, and will make paying taxes optional. Then he chides Bevin for not releasing his income tax returns, saying voters have a right to know if a candidate has conflicts of interest.
He notes how Republicans who once called Bevin a con man are now whole-heartedly embracing him. Beshear says it’s time for Bevin to “man up and be truthful for a change” about his position on key issues.
Now Sen. Mitch McConnell, who Jones calls not a scientist but he is Senate Majority Leader. McConnell jokes with Gov. Beshear who took a selfie with McConnell last year, saying the Senator would lose his reelection bid. McConnell says he’ll still be working next year and Beshear will be out of a job.
Then he says Jack Conway has better hair than Matt Bevin. Says Conway reminds people of John Edwards, minus the authenticity.
McConnell then touts his accomplishments as Majority Leader and pledges to keep up the fight to repeal Obamacare. He notes that Conway voted for Obama twice, “but at least he admits it.” McConnell says there’s not a “dimes worth of difference” between Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Conway. For a difference, McConnell says Kentuckians should vote for Matt Bevin.
Now U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky’s 1st Congressional district. He launches into an attack on President Obama’s policies on coal and small businesses. He says economic growth comes from small business owners.
Now state Sen. Stan Humphries. He calls Fancy Farm a rite of passage.
State Rep. Richard Heath takes the stage. He says God’s law trumps any laws that are passed in Washington or in Frankfort.
Now to the podium as Fancy Farm organizer Mark Wilson introduces this year’s emcee, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio. Says Jones drew a fantastic crowd for his radio show on the Fancy Farm grounds Friday morning. Wilson says we still love Jones despite his law degree from Duke University.
Jones gets cheers and boos as he takes the microphone. He calls Fancy Farm the most awesome scene in politics in the United States. Jones jokingly calls out Sen. McConnell when he doesn’t cheer with the University of Louisville fans. Says McConnell was first elected to the Senate when Fancy Farm started 135 years ago.
Jones says he’s disappointed that he won’t get to meet Sen. Rand Paul. Says Paul is busy loosing his presidential race. He implores Paul to come back home because he says he won’t win that election.
Then Jones goes on to call Steve Beshear the best Republican governor that Kentucky has ever had.
As for the gubernatorial candidates, Jones says that, like him, Bevin also lists Duke University on his resume (a reference to questions about Bevin’s academic credentials). Then Jones says Conway is like all of his ex-girlfriends combined into one, because they all curse and cry so readily.
Says all the candidates, Republican and Democratic, will try to trash President Obama as much as possible. Jones says it’s time for Alison Lundergan Grimes to finally say she voted for Obama.
Finally Jones asks people not to yell during the speeches, because “we’re not like Indiana fans – a bunch of hooligans.”
Now Patrick Hughes of the Kentucky Democratic Party and Scott Jennings of RunSwitch PR join the conversation. Jennings says the ground is very fertile for Republicans in the election. Says Fancy Farm this year really feels like the kick of to the political season.
Hughes says down-ticket races will be very competitive. Says Democratic candidates are focused on issues of interest to working families.
WKYT-TV’s Bill Bryant and Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service join the conversation now as we await the first of the political speeches. Ellis says Fancy Farm should be on every Kentuckian’s bucket list. Both men note the friendliness of the event organizers and the community.
Ellis says he expects McConnell to talk more about Conway than about Bevin. Ellis adds that he’s heard that the Senator’s top priority isn’t this year’s governor’s race but next year’s state House races.
Bryant says emcee Matt Jones will bring some spice to the event. He says Kentuckians love our sports and love our politics — it’s all about the competition.
Now a video with University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss who talks about what previous voting patterns might tell us about this year’s governor’s race.
Why isn’t Jack Conway doing better in the polls? Robertson says people aren’t excited about him, and voters are upset about what’s happening in Washington and with the U.S. Supreme Court. Moore says as more people tune into the race, Conway will gain momentum once they learn about his positions on issues. Says Conway must combat efforts to nationalize the race by talking about what he’ll do as governor.
Neither candidate has started “unloading” their campaign message so it’s hard to tell what impact independent candidate Drew Curtis might have in the race, says Robertson.
What will Sen. McConnell say about Matt Bevin? Robertson says McConnell is “supporting Matt Bevin for governor, period.” Moore says Conway will build on Gov. Steve Beshear’s economic growth by creating new jobs, improving workforce training, increasing minimum wage, and protecting public education.
Jennifer Moore says she’s curious what Republicans have to say about GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin, especially since many of them we so critical of him last year when he challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell. Steve Robertson says Democratic candidates will be doing their best to run away from Pres. Barak Obama. If Kentuckians want status quo, Robertson says they should vote for Conway. But if they want change, they should vote for Bevin.
And we’re live! Watch on KET or online at KET.org/fancyfarm
Just minutes away now. Here’s Renee Shaw and Bill Goodman with Jennifer Moore and Steve Robertson.
Another preview video from Bill Goodman.
In addition to journalists Al Cross and Ronnie Ellis, KET’s Fancy Farm coverage will also include Patrick Hughes, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; Steve Robertson, chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky; Scott Jennings, political and public relations consultant; and Jennifer Moore, former Kentucky Democratic Party chair.
We start in 15 minutes on KET and streaming online at KET.org/fancyfarm.
The agenda for this year’s Fancy Farm is packed with two dozen political speakers. Local lawmakers will start the program: State Rep. Richard Heath, state Sen. Stan Humphries, and Congressman Ed Whitfield. Then U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Steve Beshear have their turn.
Then the candidates take the stage. The gubernatorial contenders Matt Bevin and Jack Conway will each have five minutes to rally their supporters. After that, the candidates for lieutenant governor, commissioner of agriculture, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer will follow in that order. The candidates for each office will flip a coin to determine who speaks first.
We’ll also hear remarks from other current statewide officeholders who are not seeking reelection: Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, and Treasurer Todd Hollenbach
The history of the Fancy Farm picnic is as colorful as some of the politicians who have appeared at the event. Renee Shaw looks back at the picnic’s earlier days.
You can follow KET’s Bill Goodman and Renee Shaw on Twitter: @BillKET and @ReneeKET. Also see what the veteran journalists who will join our live coverage are saying about Fancy Farm. Al Cross is at @ruralj and Ronnie Ellis is at @cnhifrankfort.
Renee Shaw talked with Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones about how he found his way to the job of hosting the political speeches at Fancy Farm this year. Shaw says Mark Wilson, who organizes the speakers for the annual picnic, tapped Jones because he believes the radio host will appeal to a younger audience who enjoy his daily sports talk show.
Bill Goodman has arrived at the St. Jerome Catholic Church picnic grounds and has this welcome to Fancy Farm.
KET will have exclusive live coverage of all of the candidate speeches on August 1 starting at 2:30 p.m. Bookmark this live blog about the speeches and analysis from Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Patrick Hughes and Republican Party of Kentucky Chair Steve Robertson; GOP strategist Scott Jennings and Democratic strategist Jennifer Moore; and journalists Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service and Al Cross of the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.
You can also watch a live video stream of KET’s Fancy Farm coverage at KET.org/fancyfarm.