Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mitch at Fancy Farm: Stumbo Draws First Blood


Never let it be said that Greg Stumbo doesn't come out swinging. The Kentucky Attorney General is close to the worst possible choice to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for re-election next year, but Greg drew first blood at the 127th annual "Pork, Pie and Politics" Fancy Farm picnic yesterday. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Jack Brammer reports:

McConnell never mentioned his bid for re-election next year. But Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run against McConnell, brought several dogs with him to make light of McConnell's famous campaign ad against U.S. Walter "Dee" Huddleston in the 1980s, in which he used hounds to search for Huddleston. Stumbo's white polo shirt said he is "hunting for a real U.S. Senator."

McConnell's only decent line was a shot at Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear.

McConnell noted that he defeated Beshear in a U.S. Senate race in 1996 and that Beshear ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1987.

"It's actually good to see that Kentucky Democrats embrace recycling," McConnell said.

Yep, and you're headed for the compost pile, Mitch.

The real fireworks were between Beshear and Incumbent Criminal Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Brammer again:

The two candidates for governor stumped for votes as a heavily partisan crowd whooped for their favorites and heckled their opponents. Fletcher employed costumed characters in the crowd to underscore his comments. Fletcher said Attorney General Greg Stumbo and other Democrats could not stop him even with their "political witch hunt." On cue, a young woman dressed in a witch's black outfit stood up in the audience as Fletcher pointed to her.

He was referring to a lengthy investigation of hiring in his administration that led to three misdemeanor charges against Fletcher that later were dropped when he and Stumbo reached an agreement.

Fletcher later pointed to a character dressed like Moses. "He must be looking for the Ten Commandments, but he won't find them in our courthouses or schools," the governor said.

He was referring to Beshear's decision as attorney general from 1979 to 1983 when Beshear issued advisory opinions that removed copies of the Ten Commandments from public-school classrooms. At the time, Beshear said he had to follow constitutional and U.S. Supreme Court guidelines.

"I obeyed the law," Beshear said yesterday. "As governor I would obey the law. And wouldn't that be a great change to have a governor who obeys the law?" To illustrate his point, about 15 Beshear supporters who were labeled "Ernie's Chain Gang" marched around the crowd while dressed in prison garb and handcuffs.

Fletcher countered with "Easy Money Steve," who threw out casino chips ridiculing Beshear's position that Kentuckians should decide at the polls whether to allow expanded gambling.

Fletcher, who initially said he would not support or oppose a legislative move for casino gambling but now maintains expanded gambling will never occur while he is governor, said casino gambling in the state would lead to an increase in crimes, divorces and bankruptcies.

Beshear accused Fletcher of using scare tactics on the gambling issue, noting that the Fancy Farm picnic's main purpose is to raise funds through charitable gaming for St. Jerome Catholic church.

He called Fletcher hypocritical for not calling for the repeal of church bingo, the state lottery and parimutuel wagering.

After their speeches, Fletcher said "there is a world of difference" between casino gambling and other forms of gambling now in Kentucky.

In his speech, Beshear pounded away at the "failed leadership" in Frankfort the last four years.

Mixing a tourist slogan for Las Vegas with his lack-of-leadership claims, Beshear said, "What's going on in Frankfort right now shouldn't stay in Frankfort any longer." He then rattled off some figures that showed Kentucky in recent years has been dropping in economic development rankings for states.

And the prize for low blow predictably goes to one of the state's slimiest wingnuts.

The two candidates' running mates also did not shy away from each other. Robbie Rudolph, Fletcher's running mate, said Beshear and state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard are "a match made in Vegas."

Rudolph said, "Fancy Dan likes young ...." Rudolph then paused, saying he is glad his daughter recently married.

Rudolph's comments were a reference to Mongiardo's engagement to Allison Patrick of Frankfort. There is an age difference of about 25 years between Mongiardo, 47, and Patrick. Mongiardo said they will not marry until after the November election.

Nice double-play there, implying Mongiardo is both gay and a child molester. Classy, Robbie. Very classy.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Ditch Mitch has great Fancy Farm coverage. (No permalink - scroll down.) And Hillbilly Report has pictures!