Up until a few weeks ago many expected Saturday's Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County to be an off year for the annual political event. But, with high profile candidates in the 2014 U.S. Senate race, it seems there are no off years at Fancy Farm.
Kentucky Public Radio's John Null explains in this report.
Democratic Senate front-runner Alison Lundergan Grimes has portrayed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as being a chief Republican obstructionist as the rivals shared the spotlight at Kentucky's premier political event.
Grimes, Kentucky's 34-year-old Secretary of State, accused McConnell of being a part of the "disease of dysfunction" in Washington, and blocking legislation just to spite the White House.
"If doctors told Senator McConnell he had a kidney stone, he'd refuse to pass it," said Grimes.
McConnell touted his Senate leadership and ignored Grimes, aiming his criticism at President Barack Obama. Both candidates in next year's Senate race spoke at the Fancy Farm picnic on Saturday in western Kentucky.
McConnell told a raucous crowd that Obama's health-care law is a "disaster", and said he will focus his campaign on the damage the President's policies are having in the Bluegrass State.
A Kentucky lawmaker says it wasn't so bad being mocked on national television. Republican Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown recently appeared in a segment on Comedy Central that poked fun of legislation he introduced in the General Assembly this year.
The segment was called "Can't Touch This" about states trying to pass laws to counter-act federal laws, a procedure called nullification that's been ruled unconstitutional several times by the Supreme Court.
Thayer told comedian Jason Jones about a bill the state Senate passed this year to say Kentucky won't go along with any new guns laws from Washington.
Thayer: "There will be federal gun laws that actually take away what we believe is our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms."
Jones: "Other than that premise being completely false (audience laughter), what kind of message did you send to those gun grabbers in Washington D.C.?"
Also appearing on "The Daily Show" segment was Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner discussing counties like his moving to nullify state laws.
For Thayer's part, he says he doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as he did 15 or 20 years ago, so when asked to do the show, he said "why not."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, up for re-election next year, will share a stage Saturday afternoon with his top challengers at the always raucous church picnic known for spicy barbecue and even spicier speeches.
The event — a holdover from the days before television, when politicians had to seek out crowds to solicit votes — draws thousands of people each year to the tiny western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm and is considered a must-attend for politicians.
It will provide voters the first side-by-side comparison of McConnell and his foes — Republican primary opponent Matt Bevin and Democratic front-runner Alison Lundergan Grimes — in a charged political climate with the candidates taking turns trying to shout their speeches over jeering hecklers.
"From a purely political standpoint, it's a test for candidates," said Greg Higdon, a former state senator who helps with the picnic, now in its 133rd year. "There have been some politicians who have handled it better than others. It's not easy. I know it's tough."
A political action committee supporting Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator has raised $1.2 million since its creation in April.
Major donors to the pro-Mitch McConnell Super PAC called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership include Donald Trump, who has given $50,000, and deceased mega-donor Bob Perry, who gave $100,000. The information was found in the PAC’s most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Perry’s donation is listed as having been made June 3, which is almost two months after he died. The PAC’s treasurer told the website Politico that the wrong date was recorded due to a clerical error in the filings.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has so far spent nearly $400,000 in media ads supporting McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign.