Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fancy Farm: Behind The Smiles and Singing

Names and conversations were hemorrhaging from my head as I began to drive home from Kentucky Dam Village this morning. What should I write, what can I say, what stories and people should I share? With only a few notes to lean on, my concerns seemed to diminish the farther I journeyed down Hwy. 68. A quiet ride that provided scenes of our lakes, ducks flying over, a small buck crossing the road, folks heading to church, and wild turkey feeding in the fields was just the reminder I needed to gain my perspective.

After sitting down to read the accounts of all the Fancy Farm events it was pretty clear I hate to say, that the political journalist did a poor job of reporting and seeking out stories. Ryan Alessi and CN/2 are the exception whereas they seemed to be hustling any story they could find. I don't know if others just missed them or chose not to write about them. With that said I will provide what I came home with.


Former Governor Julian Carroll now State Senator gave one of the two best speeches made this past weekend. Carroll gave a rousing speech at the labor luncheon in defense of Western Kentucky and pulled no punches in delivering the feelings shared by a majority of West Kentucky Democrats. We have no representation in Frankfort, we have no state office holders who reside in West Kentucky, we have no one in leadership and on and on commented Carroll. Those outside West Kentucky were calling it a sermon while those in the room from West Kentucky were quietly saying AMEN!!

House Speaker Greg Stumbo provided the much needed levity by telling a story about a preacher, a sinner, and a goat. Stumbo opted not to share the story again which I believe he probably should have. Tell it all brother.

Behind the smiles and singing it was obvious that there was a great deal of anxiety being felt by everyone from everywhere. Many would blame the hard fought primary between Conway and Mongiardo as the problem but all that is simply a symptom of much larger problems. 


I had the opportunity to meet with some labor leaders from Louisville to hear their take and concerns about candidates and the general election. I appreciated their honesty and their comments. One gentlemen asked me what the hell was wrong with us down here regarding his belief that we (Western Kentucky) were ruining the Democratic Party. He commented that the only thing left in West Kentucky was God and meth. I laughed pretty hard then they shared with me that they were disgruntled with Conway and had their own issues. They made it clear that although they intended to vote for Jack Conway there would be no effort to organize the labor ranks in Louisville on his behalf. After hearing their comments I came to the conclusion that maybe Democrats have some issues in other places beside just West Kentucky.


The Bean Dinner or as we refer to it, The Mike Miller Dinner, has become the event for Western Kentucky politicos. The food is always good and I have the most fun at this event. I probably should be ashamed but I get the biggest kick out of standing in the food line and asking people who don't select the onions and pepper relish to put in the white beans if they are from Lexington or Louisville. They always reply,"How did you know that?" There wasn't anything out of the ordinary that happened this year other than those folks who are seeking to run next year.

2011 Candidates

Bob Farmer- of Jefferson County is running for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Rep. John Tilley-is considering the Attorney General position.

Stewart Gritton- of Anderson County is also running for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Steve Hamrick-of Hopkinsville is running for State Treasurer.

Critt Luallen- Most expect her run for Secretary of State. (I was informed a few hours ago of someone in Jefferson County who is seriously considering running for Auditor. This person would be a creditable candidate and comes from a very prominent Kentucky family. They didn't want to go public just yet and I assure you that it's nobody on the present political radar.)


The Fayette County folks held a nice reception in Mayfield. I enjoyed meeting them and listening to their comments. Some noted that they were frustrated and had been inconvenienced by the cultural differences between West Kentucky and Lexington. I sincerely want people to have a good experience when they visit West Kentucky but I also believe that maybe their experience provided an opportunity. An opportunity to appreciate the diversity Kentucky provides and maybe a better understanding of what is required to build political unity. Don Blevins who is running for the State Senate gave a good speech and made his case for taking back control of the Senate.


OK, white beans and cornbread is not your forte so why did you not go to the reception at Green Turtle Bay? You said you were frustrated because liquor and beer was not readily accessible so why did you not go to the reception at Green Turtle Bay? You said you had difficulties with the culture and you wanted to smoke and dance so why did you not go to the reception at Green Turtle Bay? You said you were tired of corn fields and barns so why did you not go to the reception at Green Turtle Bay?

Green Turtle Bay offered a really nice venue for those who prefer to be entertained in an upscale environment. Big houses, big boats, a yacht club and a spa- they have it all. I'm not sure how many yacht clubs there are in Kentucky but we've got one in West Kentucky. I could not go in because I don't own a yacht nor am I a member, but I bet it's as nice as the other yacht clubs that I'm not a member of in Kentucky.

This event offered a fancy reception at their spa. They had open bar and featured Woodford Reserve. There was live music and snazzy hor d' vores(snacks) to enjoy. There were really pretty girls who were even nice to me. I've dubbed them the Turtle-etts. Republicans and Democrats alike seemed to enjoy themselves so for those who really like that sort of thing-Why did you not go to the reception at Green Turtle Bay.

The Breakfast at Mayfield High School

This was a standing room only event. Carroll Hubbard was the master of ceremonies  and shared the intro responsibilities with Rep. Fred Nesler and Rep. John Will Stacey. The only interesting comments came from House Majority Whip John Will Stacey when said that Rep. John Tilley would make a good Attorney General. This came to the chagrin of a few who are now starting to realize that Tilley has been very quietly locking up support state wide for months.

Fancy Farm

Fancy Farm is an example that big is not always better. The event which I have attended since 1969 (the first one I remember) has lost some of its appeal for me. Fancy Farm is about Western Kentucky. It's about coming to visit us and hearing about our issues and beliefs not everyone else's. Fancy Farm is now over run with those who get hauled in to cheer and jeer to the extent that one might as well be at Six Flags.

The best speech of the weekend was delivered by Governor Steve Beshear much to my surprise. The Beshear speech may have been his best. Conway gets an "A" for delivery but a "D" for content. He rehashed the same speech he has been giving when Western Kentuckians were expecting a speech  that was dedicated to West Kentucky issues. Granted Conway mentioned agriculture subsidies but failed horribly to mention any issue that is key to folks in Western Kentucky. Conway is now forced to rely on a strategy that predicates success on the other guy screwing up. Hopefully Conway will put more emphasis on agriculture and military issues in the weeks to come.


I appreciated the efforts of the KDP staff who genuinely seemed to be interested in the concerns of West Kentucky. After meeting and speaking with Daniel Logsdon I'm convinced he is more concerned about being a work horse as opposed to a show horse. I think Logsdon understands that a "Team Effort" means more than just a few or one area of the state. After getting off to a rocky start I believe he is working hard to mend some fences and get everyone headed in the right direction.


Mike Lawrence- Former McCracken County Circuit Court Clerk is perplexed by the number of democrats who are raising money but aren't on the ballot in November. Many canidates around Kentucky are finding it hard to compete in this fundraising environment. Given Jack Conway's present strategy I would think that he needs Mike Lawerence and Rex Smith to run very competitive races.

Rep. Will Coursey made it clear that he would not be defined or lumped into a crowd with Obama , Reid or Pelosi. Coursey stated he was committed to the beliefs of his district.

Jerry Lundergun was surrounded with lots of new friends all praying that he will push the button on his speed dial that says B.C.

Rep. Jody Richards was the recipient of much good will and support for his bid to become House Speaker Pro-Tem. Richards, not only a West Kentucky advocate, but a life long friend of Labor in Kentucky.

Carroll Hubbard- Rumors were flying regarding Hubbard's intention to run for the State Senate again.

Rocky Adkins- is not closing the door on a possible run for Governor.

Todd Hollenbach-Apparently has visions of sugar plums dancing in his head and notions that he may now want to be Attorney General. Given his inability to raise money and build a credible state wide organization, most pundits believe he will not seek to run for any office next year. 

Gatewood- Again

Rex Smith- appears poised to take a good shot at Bob Leeper. Some think Smith can win in a 3 way race. Smith is a former state representative and a successful businessman.

Eddie Jacobs- I just like the guy. He has a nice get together after the bean dinner and I was forced to miss it. I got stuck at Green Turtle Bay when the shuttle did not return.


Anonymous said...

I like ya tim. But the sooner you realize that organized labor is dead the sooner you we can come up with a winning strategy for democrats. We need to move past courting the dying breed that is big labor and start talking common sense. We need to embrace RESPONSIBLE capitolism, not try to kill it.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy the wife of the worst MSU President in school history didn't sing the National Anthem. I heard her sing at a basketball game and 4th of July and she is terrible. I liked how MSU campus is only a short drive from Fancy Farm and they didn't even reconized the president until well after the speaking started. This guy looks goofy, acts goofy and is a moron. Randy and Rand should get together and trade notes about how little they know about western Ky. and especially agriculture.