Most of Kentucky's elected Democrats will skip this weekend's annual Fancy Farm picnic.
As of Wednesday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is the only high profile Democrat scheduled to speak. Stumbo is filling in for the governor, whos on an economic development trip in Europe. Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson and the four remaining statewide elected Democratic officials are opting not to speak.
Abramson has claimed a family event will prevent him from speaking this weekend, while Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Attorney General Jack Conway and Auditor Adam Edelen have yet to respond to organizer's request to speak. Treasurer Todd Hollenbach has told organizers he will be on the grounds at the picnic, but is refusing to speak.
People do big things for more than one reason and its a big thing to miss the Fancy Farm picnic if youre the governor or lieutenant governor, so I have to suspect their schedules are driven in part to by a desire to disassociate the Kentucky Democratic Party with the national Democratic Party and President Obama, says Al Cross, Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.
Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman Matt Erwin says his party will be well represented at the picnic, even with the notable absences.
"We're looking forward to building excitement among supporters and building upon our successful 2011," Erwin says.
Cross adds that skipping the event is political poison in Western Kentucky, especially with Democrats who want to run for office in the future. And he says Conway and Abramsonwho are rumored contenders for governor in 2015will lose the most by skipping this year's event.
I think that they folks down there expect their Central Kentucky officials to come see them, and they remember when they dont, he says.