Update 3:45 p.m.: James Comer Is Running for Governor
This time, though, he also said he's officially running for governor in 2015.
Update 3:25 p.m.: McConnell Draws Obama, Grimes Parallels
Likewise, a very quick summary of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's speech. We'll have more later on. McConnell spend a good part of his speech drawing parallels between his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes and President Obama.
"He didn't have any qualifications at all," McConnell said of the president. "Sound familiar?" He also noted that he'd be in line to become Senate majority leader if Republicans took control of the Senate in the fall.
Update 3:10 p.m.: Grimes Says McConnell 'Doesn't Care'
Very quick summary of Alison Lundergan Grimes' speech. To the expected cheers and jeers, the Democratic Senate candidate went through a series of jabs at Senator Mitch McConnell. Bringing up controversies including Cloverlick and the Duke Blue Devils footage mistake. She also said she'd been endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America.
Update 2:29 p.m.: Beshear Takes a Shot of McConnell
Governor Steve Beshear, the first speaker, began by taking a photo of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He said he wanted to have a last photo of McConnell before he's "retired."
Update 2:23 p.m.: Biggest Crowd Fancy Farm Ever
Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham announces that this is the largest Fancy Farm crowd ever.
Cunningham is emceeing the political speaking. On the "can Fancy Farm be tamed?" question, Cunningham has called for "civility and courtesy."
"All we ask is you leave your bad manners at home," Cunningham tells the crowd.
Update: 2:57 p.m.: Fancy Farm Speakers
The Fancy Farm political speaking begins at about 3 p.m. Here's the order of speakers, from last to first:
- State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach
- State Auditor Adam Edelen
- Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
- Attorney General Jack Conway
- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul
- Alison Lundergan Grimes, U.S. Senate candidate and secretary of state
- U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is seeking re-election this year
- Congressional candidate Charles Hatchett
- Congressman Ed Whitfield
- Jesse Wright, candidate for state representative
- State Rep. Richard Heath
- State Sen. Stan Humphries
- Governor Steve Beshear
We'll have some updates as the speaking goes on, and much more coverage of the Fancy Farm speeches and the scene later today.
Update 2:30 p.m.: Will the Fancy Farm Crowd Tone It Down?
It's part of the tradition: Fancy Farm political speakers and hecklers go toe-to-toe, trading salty and sometimes off-color criticisms.
“And you can holler all you want at me and I can hear you,” Attorney General Jack Conway yelled in 2009. “But just like Wendell (Ford) used to say, go ahead and chew on my hide. It only grows back tougher. And I’ve been around awhile and you’re looking at one tough son of a b—.”
Now, cursing is a no-no.
With this year's U.S. Senate race drawing national attention, Fancy Farm organizers have asked attendees here to tone down the heckling.
WFPL's Phillip Bailey this week explored attempts to tame the heckling.
Will Fancy Farm attendees heed the call? We'll find out very soon.
Update 2:05 p.m.: A Noteworthy Orator
Among the sights and sounds, the Fancy Farm picnic provides a platform for candidates to showcase their rhetorical skills. For many years, perennial candidate Gatewood Galbraith wowed attendees with his oratory style. Galbraith, who died in January 2012, has been cited by many to be the best speakers in the picnic's recent history, according to Kentucky Public Radio's Jonathan Meador, who reported on Galbraith's legacy this week.
In 2011, the gubernatorial candidate hollered from the picnic stage: “I asked somebody the other day, he says 'I'm going to endorse you.' I say, 'Why are you gonna endorse me?' He said, 'cause you never lied to us.' I said, 'Hell, if I was gonna lie to you I'd already been elected governor."
— Brendan McCarthy
Update: 1:30 p.m.: Dan Mongiardo Won't Decide on Governor Run Until November Waiting
In Maysville the morning before the Fancy Farm picnic, former Democratic Kentucky Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo said he won’t make up his mind about a 2015 gubernatorial bid until after the November election.
Mongiardo led the Pledge of Allegiance at the Maysville High School Democratic breakfast before a crowd of about 400 Saturday morning in advance of the 144th annual Fancy Farm picnic.
“I have had a lot of phone calls from around the state from a lot of friends that I have made,” Mongiardo said. “I’ve seen a lot of people that I’ve known for a long time today, and certainly they’ve been encouraging.”
Mongiardo outlined some of the issues he believes the next governor of Kentucky would face, including the loss of jobs in eastern Kentucky’s coal fields, as well as the state’s dysfunctional, underfunded public employee pension system.
When asked if he would support Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s gubernatorial bid, Mongiardo dodged the question.
“There’s one election right now, and that’s Alison Lundergan Grimes’ election,” Mongiardo said, referring to this year's U.S. Senate race. “That’s the only thing we should be looking at, and nothing else. Anything else is taking away from that focus, and we need all hands on deck for that election.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has also said he will wait until after the November elections, in part to focus on Grimes’ campaign as well as his party’s effort to maintain a narrow eight-seat majority in the Kentucky state House.
A Democratic gubernatorial primary with Mongiardo and Conway would be a rematch from a nasty 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Conway bested Mongiardo, but lost to Kentucky junior U.S. Rand Paul.
Until the Senate election ends, Mongiardo is trying to get out the vote for Grimes in his native eastern Kentucky, he said.
“I think the [Grimes-McConnell] race is going to be won or lost in eastern Kentucky depending on our turnout,” he said. “I’m certainly familiar with that even though I’ve always won eastern Kentucky, but not by [a big enough margin]. And it’s a Democratic stronghold, it has been for a long time, and we need to get our vote out there.”
Update 12:21 p.m.: Live From Fancy Farm
Today, the national political spotlight turns to this tiny community for a church picnic that bills itself as the world's largest one-day barbeque.
Yes, there will be barbecue, but the annual Fancy Farm picnic is a megaphone for windy Kentucky politicians. This year's event promises to be a wild one.
WFPL has a team of reporters at Fancy Farm now. We'll have updates here throughout the day.