It's probably been over 20 years since I attended the St. John Picnic and my what a change. I worked the crowd speaking to folks for about an hour and I was very surprised at the comments that I received. Usually attitudes I find reserved in my backyard along the Hwy 68 corridor were alive and well in the Purchase.
It has been my experience that the men are usually the most outspoken at these events but not yesterday. I spoke with ladies from 15 to 70 years old and they were all in agreement in their dislike, disgust and opposition to the the National Democratic Party agenda. Obama, Pelosi and so on. I predicted to most over a year ago that I was afraid that next year would turn into another 1994 in Rural Kentucky and if yesterday was any indication- I may be right.
After reflecting a while last night I thought maybe I was interjecting some of my own personal frustration into my thoughts until I read Bill Bartleman's article this afternoon. We saw and heard the same things. The hit speech of the day came from Republican candidate Bill Johnson of Todd County. Johnson who is a Gulf War Veteran brought a roar from the crowd when he said that the solution to America's problems was returning the Nation to the values of the Ronald Reagan Era. Much to my surprise, folks when asked were not as concerned with the economy as they were moral issues, big government, abortion, gun control. In short- most responded that regardless of the problems that faced Kentucky and the Nation they did not want government being any part of the debate or the solution.
There were no bus loads of people brought in to support any one candidate. No, these were average, educated, middle-class people. From public school teachers to Union members-no one was happy with the Democrats.
I was surprised at Jack Conway's speech and I suppose one can look at it two different ways. Personally I like Jack Conway but I don't line up very well with him on many issues. In one respect I can admire the nads it took to step up and say the things he said but I don't think he gained any votes and probably lost some. Jack emphasized that the most important reason for voting for him was that the National Democrat Party was in a battle for control of the U.S. Senate. I don't think anyone told Jack that West Kentucky Democrats have no interest in a Democrat Controlled Senate run by Liberals. Jack's remarks drew a long quiet response from the crowd.
Conway also bragged that one of the crowning achievements of the Democrats in Kentucky was (KERA) the Kentucky Education Reform Act. Not a smart political move down here.You have heard me say many times, KERA in my opinion was probably the worst piece of legislation in Kentucky History. So all in all probably not a good day for Conway. My sources tell me that the Conway fundraiser at Barkley Lodge was only attended by 25 people at best. I don't know how much he raised from the event.
It was obvious that the majority of Democrats at St. John and the Hickman County Democratic Dinner were for Monjiardo. But neither Monjiardo nor Conway were the crowd pleasers among the Democrat Candidates. Darlene Price, a veteran who has testified before Congress and appeared on numerous national talk shows, gave a passionate speech about the need for campaign finance reform.
Rand Paul gave a very articulate speech which was well received by the crowd. I was party to conversation Paul was having and he said that his campaign was on track to have more than enough money to run head to head with Trey Grayson who was not in attendance.
Gatewood was entertaining as always and folks seem to appreciate State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach making the drive to be a part of the event.
Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham was the Master of Ceremonies. Appellate Court Judge Shea Nickel sang along with newly appointed Circuit Judge Tim Kaltenbach. Many local dignitaries on stage spoke or were recognized including State Rep. Fred Nesler and former Congressman Carroll Hubbard.
I met Glenda Ransom who was appointed McCracken County Circuit Court Clerk upon the retirement of Mike Lawrence. Lawrence was the Democrat nominee against Steve Rudy. I spent a few minutes talking politics with Mark Riddle who is running Jack Conway's Campaign. As always it was good to see Jimmy Morphew who is a First District Representative on the State Democratic Executive Committee.
So what's my take on the present mood of Democrats and Republicans in Western Kentucky right now? They are not going to vote for a Liberal or Progressive candidate and they probably are not going to vote for any Democrat in November 2010.
Local Democrats in Western Kentucky are going to have to walk a fine line because defending a National Democrat Party agenda may spell doom for some. Right now people are mad as hell at the Democrats and the Government at every level.
I will be posting interviews with Bill Johnson and Darlene Price. Both candidates are long shots and have very little money but both offer something different that everyone including myself found interesting