Columbus-Belmont State Park
A five county rally was held last night at Columbus-Belmont State Park in Columbus, Ky. I traveled from Hopkinsville on Friday and arrived about 1:30 at the Park. The event did not start until 5:30 but being a civil war buff and considering the fact that I had not been there in over 35 years, I thought it best to take my time and enjoy.
The park sits on 156 acres overlooking the Mississippi River. The area is unique considering its history. The Confederate strong hold was established to protect the Mississippi River from Union forces. The CSA pulled a large chain grounded by a six ton anchor across the river as a defensive measure to keep Union boats from using the River.
General U.S. Grant began his Western Campaign at Columbus on the Mississippi River. The Park is a beautiful park which features a museum and camping grounds.
The Fish fry and Rally
Volunteers arrived hours before to set up the event which was trimmed with all the amenities of a political rally. Signs, balloons, and a band were on hand. By 2pm it was clear that Steve Beshear would not be coming and you could see the disappointment on peoples faces. But everyone pressed on and later word arrived that Joe B. Hall would be coming to speak. I would estimate that there were at least 200 people in attendance. Having attended a number of these functions, I was surprised at the large crowd. Supporters from McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton County's packed the convention room. A great meal of fish,hush-puppies, white beans, slaw and potatoes was served up.
Carroll Hubbard and Joe B. Hall Speak
Former Congressman and State Senate Candidate Carroll Hubbard spoke on behalf of the ticket. Hubbard stressed the importance of having a native Western Kentuckian as our next Governor. Hubbard also related that Steve Beshear shared the values of our end of the state having been raised in Dawson Springs, the son of a Baptist Lay Minister.
Hubbard shared his relationship and support for Todd Hollenbach Jr. whereas he had been personal friends of the Hollenbachs for years. Kyle Hubbard, the brother of Carroll Hubbard served in Judge Todd Hollenbach's administration.
Coach Joe B. Hall spoke at length relating Steve Beshear's disappointment for not being able to come. Coach Hall did not pull any punches and stated frankly that the race for governor was going to get really ugly. He gave a horror story and fishing analogy to explain the muck everyone was about to see and hear regarding the Kentucky Central ethics report. Coach Hall spoke briefly about each member of the ticket and stated that he was a personal friend of Todd Hollenbach Jr. and Steve Beshear. The rumors being spread about Jack Conway were not to be believed stated Hall. Encouraging everyone to dig in and fight, Coach Hall finished the evening recanting some of his experiences while playing for Adolph Rupp.
I had the opportunity to visit and speak with many people last night regarding not just politics but also the local history. I met Lindy Henley who is a former magistrate and who has been a member of the Hickman Co. Democrat Executive Committee for over 20 years. Lindy commented that there was not much talk of politics in the area and that everything was quiet.
When Lynn Lane walked into the crowded room you could tell right away that she was not only popular but one of the democrat leaders along the river. Everyone stopped and watched as she made her way through the crowd into the room. She ain't real hard to look at by the way. Lynn Lane is the County Court Clerk in Ballard County and someone in her family has served in the Ballard Courthouse for over 40 years. Having worked for Judge Bob Buchanon while on staff for Congressman Tom Barlow, I felt like we shared something in common. Lynn and I spoke briefly about Ballard County and the people we knew. Predicting the voter turnout in the purchase area, Lynn stated that she thought it would be pretty good but she was a little concerned at this point based on the number of absentee ballots received in her County. About 35% to 40% seemed to be the consensus from area leaders. Ballard Co, Democrat Chairman, Terry Simmons, said that the Party was going to be working hard to deliver a Democrat victory in November.
Clyde Elrod who is noted for his participation and years of service, introduced Joe B. Hall to the crowd. Mr. Elrod and I chatted about the campaigns and both agreed the Democrats would win but not without a tough fight. I met Ivan Potter who is a fellow West KY blogger. Ivan has West Ky Politics.org and we both shared how our experience with how the web sites came about. We agreed to work on some things together and stay in touch. I had to apologize for my ignorance of setting up and maintaining mine. I had to explain how Jeff Noble in Louisville helped me and continues to help me through some of these technical problems. Geoff Reed, Field Director for Congressman Ben Chandler was on hand. Geoff and I share some common friends. Bobby McDowell of Georgetown and Becky McCauley who works in Chandler's office also. Shawn Dixon was in the house last night to accept his accolades. Dixon, a 24 year old native of Columbus, pulled off a master coup by bringing Senator John Edwards to Columbus on Thursday. Edwards was greeted by an estimated 2000 people at the Columbus-Belmont State Park.
A very impressive event put on by the 5 County Executive Committees but I must maintain some objectivity as I have promised. First, I thought it was an embarrassment that only Steve Beshear and Todd Hollenbach Jr had representatives present. Second, as I said in my very first post when I started this blog, bringing Western Kentucky back into the fold ain't going to be cheap. Thinking that things will get so bad that people will return to the Party is a pipe dream. West Kentucky, its people and their beliefs have been here and the same for 200 years. We did not go any place, the Democrat Party did. Until candidates and the Party realize that campaign visits have to mean more than just contributions and large crowds then it is going to remain an up hill battle. The Democrat Party is going to have to earn the right to represent Western Kentucky again. As Sean Connery would say: "Here end of lesson."
(Footnote: I will be posting some pictures later)