Mitch McConnell

The Sounds (and Sights) of Fancy Farm 2014

Aug 3, 2014
Emil Moffatt

The first weekend in August in western Kentucky means only one thing: Fancy Farm. The small town suddenly transforms into the epicenter of the Kentucky political universe.

And to keep a tradition going for 134 years, it takes some pretty committed volunteers.

“Each family in the church has a responsibility and this family has taken care of the hamburgers and hot dogs for decades,” said Will Hayden, who was working the grill Saturday morning.

Hayden and Brad Page of Fancy Farm spoke to us as they were cooling down after a long morning and afternoon tending to a hot grill. Page says they normally start grilling between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning. Fancy Farm has been a part of their lives as long as they can remember.

“Oh, I’m 45, so 42 [Fancy Farms] that I know of,” said Hayden.

Page also says he started volunteering as a child.

“It’s been handed down generation to generation.  I’ve got my kids, and his kids,”  said Page pointing to Hayden. “Hopefully they’ll get in there and get at it.”

WKU PBS

Senator Mitch McConnell wants new restrictions placed on the federal government’s ability to transport the growing number of young migrants coming to the U.S. from Central America.

The Kentucky Republican’s amendment to Senate border legislation would prohibit the movement of what he calls “unaccompanied alien minors” across state lines unless certain criteria are met. Under the plan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to certify the minors wouldn’t have a burdensome economic or public health impact on the affected state and communities.

McConnell’s amendment would also prohibit the movement of the young migrants unless the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security Departments certify that transporting them will not delay their immediate repatriation.

In a news release, McConnell said the unaccompanied minors should be treated humanely and returned to their home country as soon as possible, and not “shipped across the nation and housed at taxpayer expense.”

The Fancy Farm Picnic’s political chair Mark Wilson says Democrats and Republicans offered positive feedback following a conference call to encourage a more civil atmosphere at this year's picnic.

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce

One of the candidates in the highly-contested Kentucky U.S. Senate race has agreed to take part in an event in Owensboro next month.  

Incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell confirmed he will appear at the Red, White & Blue Picnic on Aug. 26.  The event is sponsored by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. McConnell’s Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes has not said whether she’ll attend. 

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

With just over three months to go until Election Day, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has a slim, two percentage-point lead over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

The figure comes from a new Bluegrass Poll released Monday evening, showing the five-term Senator leading 47 percent to 45 percent.  The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points and was conducted between July 18th and 23rd. In previous polls, Grimes had a four-point lead over McConnell in February.  That lead shrank to one point in May.

The Bluegrass Poll is conducted for the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader as well as television stations WHAS and WKYT. 

Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

This Saturday the 134th annual Fancy Farm political picnic will feature thousands of pounds of barbecue, and even spicier political rhetoric. In addition, the event’s chairman anticipates this year’s political gathering to be the largest ever.

Mark Wilson and his wife, Lori, have directed the political happenings at the Fancy Farm picnic for the past eight years. Mark anticipates this year’s crowd will be the largest since 1992, when Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore spoke at the event. 

“It’s a ballpark, 15 to 20,000. And that’s what we anticipate this year, the same type of crowd. 

A lifelong congregant of the stump speech mecca’s St. Jerome Catholic parish, where the event is held alongside raffles and bingo, Wilson says local and state officeholders, as well as both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators, will be present at Fancy Farm.

He says he anticipates Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer to keep with a tried and true Fancy Farm tradition and announce his rumored gubernatorial candidacy. 

“There’s speculation that he’s going to announce his intentions to run for governor on the Republican side of the aisle, and we think there’s a very good possibility he will make that announcement on our political platform on Saturday.”

Wilson says the event will also feature its other signature offering: Several thousand pounds of barbeque mutton, chicken, and pork to aid the digestion of what could be the biggest Fancy Farm ever.

Georgia Republicans picked their Senate nominee Tuesday night. Former corporate CEO David Perdue will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the November general election.

Nunn, the daughter of a popular former senator, is among several Democratic female candidates who are showing strength as the party tries to preserve its Senate majority. She's also considered a real contender to turn the Georgia seat Democratic.

WKMS

The 134th Fancy Farm Picnic is now just a little more than two weeks away and the line-up of speakers is almost complete.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, are expected to face off for the second time in as many years on August 2. Fancy Farm political chair Mark Wilson says, unlike Grimes, McConnell has yet to confirm his appearance, but expects the five-term Senator will make the trip.

Wilson said the picnic’s attendance could swell to as many as 20,000 people.

“Normally we’ll do 10-12,000 or so," Wilson said. "But with all the heightened interest in the McConnell/Grimes race and then you’ve got U.S. Sen. Rand Paul with some presidential aspirations and then we’ve got Jack Conway and James Comer, both sitting state officials who have gubernatorial aspirations.”

Comer has yet to actually declare himself a candidate for governor. The lone Republican to officially enter the race, Hal Heiner, will not be invited to speak, according to Wilson, because he’s not a sitting public official. McConnell's primary challenger, Matt Bevin, ran into the same problem at last year's event, but was eventually invited to speak.

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

A Super PAC supporting Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is greatly out-performing a similar group that is raising money for Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

According to a report in the Courier-Journal, the vast majority of the contributions made to the pro-McConnell group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership come from out-of-state individuals.

That Super PAC this week reported raising nearly $424,000 during the months of May and June. None of that money came from Kentuckians. The single biggest donation came from Sam Fox of St. Louis, the CEO and chairman of a private company that acquires businesses.

Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has raised more than $3.7 million dollars since it was formed last year, with less than 5 percent of that coming from donors with Kentucky addresses.

A Super PAC supporting Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes called We Are Kentucky raised $50,000 during the second quarter, while spending nearly $65,000 in that same time period. Since forming last year, the group has raised $343,000, a fraction of what Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has taken in to support Senator McConnell.

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

Kentucky’s two U.S. Senate candidates are reporting major fundraising hauls.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she took in over $4 million during the second quarter ending in June, breaking the record for most money raised by a Kentucky Senate candidate in a single quarter.

That record was previously held by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, the man Grimes is trying to defeat this November. McConnell raised $2.9 million during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Overall, the Grimes Senate campaign has raised nearly $11.3 million dollars to date.

Shortly after the Grimes camp released their fundraising totals Tuesday, the McConnell campaign announced they raised $3.1 million dollars in the second quarter. The incumbent reported $9.8 million in cash on hand--about $3.6 million more than his Democratic opponent.

The race between Grimes and McConnell is shaping up to be one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the nation, with many analysts predicting it could also be one of the most expensive Senate campaigns in history.

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