FANCY FARM — Pulled pork, politics and plenty of humidity could be found Saturday in Fancy Farm during the 139th annual Fancy Farm picnic.
Republicans, Democrats and everything in between gathered under the pavilion of St. Jerome Catholic Church to trade ideas and insults during the annual politically-themed fundraiser. Among those speaking to the large crowd were U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, and current Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Andy Beshear.
Republicans stuck to issues of economic growth, job creation and the pursuit of pro-life bills within the state and nation as their main talking points. Democrats stuck mainly to the issues of health care and education; while both Kentucky Republicans and Democrats discussed the state’s ailing pension system.
“What a great time for our commonwealth and our country; after suffering under Barack Obama, we are roaring back,” said McConnell. “Under President Trump and Governor Bevin and our united Republican leadership, Kentucky is leading the way. We have hit and sustained the lowest unemployment rate in Kentucky’s recorded history, and there are far more open jobs than people looking for work.”
McConnell reminded the audience that he is one of the only majority or minority leaders in Washington not from New York or California, and touted his blocking of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and his support of Trump nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh. McConnell also mentioned more military spending, and tax cuts for the middle class.
“In Washington, President Trump and I are making America great again, by confirming young and brilliant judges; investing in our great military, especially the men and women at Ft. Campbell and Ft. Knox; middle-class tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks,” McConnell said. “Congressman James Comer (R-Ky) and I led the charge on legalizing industrial hemp, and now it is growing in 101 of our 120 counties.”
McConnell said Democrats want to open borders and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and said that he and Republicans “want to build a wall.”
“They want to turn America into a socialist country, but Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are never going to let that happen,” McConnell said. “That’s why I call myself the ‘grim reaper;’ I am killing their socialist agenda. And the first step is fighting these liberal scams that happen right here in Kentucky.
“That is why we need to re-elect Governor Bevin, so we can continue these record-setting gains for Kentucky workers — $20 billion in announced new investment in our state under this governor, and 55,000 announced new jobs under this governor.”
Bevin, who was the first gubernatorial candidate to speak following a coin toss, attacked Beshear for not supporting pro-life legislation within the commonwealth. After reminding the audience that the picnic they were attending was a fundraiser for the church, Bevin hoisted a banner showing a Beshear campaign fundraiser hosted by Louisville-based Dr. Ernest Marshall, of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center.
“This is another fundraiser that was held this week; it was held by and for Andy Beshear. It was hosted by the guy who owns the only abortion clinic left in Kentucky,” Bevin said. “It was attended by the doctors that still kill children under the name of abortion in Kentucky. This attorney general has never once challenged a single pro-life bill passed by the legislature, Republican and Democrat, in this state.”
Bevin then turned to some of the metrics McConnell had previously touted, mentioning the unemployment rate in the state.
“We do have the lowest unemployment in the history of Kentucky; we have more people working now than ever,” Bevin said. “We have more goods and services and crops being produced here in Kentucky and going into the world than ever in the history of Kentucky. We have more people productively working, contributing to the American dream than ever before.”
Bevin asked those in attendance “which side” they were on over a series of issues. Those issues included abortion, sanctuary cities and numerous other policies he said Democrats supported.
“Are you on the side of sanctuary cities, or are you on the side of protecting the rule of law and securing our borders?” Bevin asked. “Are you on the side of life? Or are you on the side of those who take lives and profit from the blood money associated with it? This is a race about choices; are you on the side of the only administration to ever fund the pension system, or are you on the side of those who have robbed the pension system year after year?”
During his time, Beshear touched on his Kentucky roots and espoused his support for providing health care to Kentuckians and providing funding for education.
“This race is very serious; it is about issues we worry about every single night around our kitchen table, and this race comes down to four critical issues: pensions, public education, jobs and health care. On every single one of them, Matt Bevin is wrong,” Beshear said. “On education; it is wrong when Bevin attacks and insults our teachers. It is wrong when he takes money out of public education to give to his private school buddies. Matt Bevin is the single greatest threat to public education we have ever seen.”
To address the pension issue, Beshear said they would be looking to increase revenue without raising taxes. Beshear then pivoted to health care and discussed his work taking on pharmaceutical companies through the AG office.
“It is wrong when Matt Bevin sides with the insurance and pharmaceutical companies trying to tear away our coverage … for pre-existing conditions,” Beshear said. “I am fighting these pharma companies that are gouging us every day. I have sued the three largest makers of insulin; it costs $7 a bottle to manufacture, and they are charging Kentuckians up to $300. Under a Beshear/Coleman administration, we will work to make sure nobody ever has to ration their insulin again.”
Beshear also went after Bevin, claiming little to no new jobs created under his administration have been in western Kentucky.
“He has had four year and he didn’t stand up here and tell you about one job in your area,” he said. “I will create better-paying jobs, one where you can raise your family working just that one job. We will invest in agri-tech which could make western Kentucky a national leader, and we will build that I-69 bridge.”