Fancy Farm 2016 Scott Jennings, a catalyst for Democratic boycott?
Scott Jennings brought his right hand jokes to his duties as emcee. Partisans cheered and booed through out the monologue. He got great pleasure zinging Democrats who weren't attending.
Jennings joked that his old boss, Senator Mitch McConnell threatened to kill him if he ever told the Courier Journal anything he saw in the Senator's office. As the laughter died down, he deadpanned "that wasn't a joke."
His mention of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray who is running against Senator Rand Paul, was thrown in as an offhand remark. Jennings joked that he had forgotten Gray - but most of his party has too.
Elected Democrats like Attorney General Andy Beshear, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and Majority Whip and Democratic Party Chair Sannie Overly all skipped the Saturday Picnic. Overly, Beshear, Grimes and Stumbo were spotted by the media at other political events in the Purchase.
Rumors flew that displeasure with the choice of Jennings as moderator was the reason for their no-shows.
The boycott didn't please picnic organizers. Political speaking co-chair Mark Wilson was asked if the Democrats were invited. Wilson stated emphatically that they were. "You know me. You're a Democrat. I'm a Republican. I play it straight when scheduling."
Wilson mentioned that even Gerald Watkins, now a House member, bailed out at the last minute. "He was our timekeeper for years." Wilson said.
Democrats who are discomforted by Jennings' speech are being reminded of last year's emcee, Kentucky Sports Radio's Matt Jones, who gigged Republicans while fulfilling his duties as emcee.
While the length of the Jennings' monologue rivaled that of Senator McConnell and Governor Bevin who each were allotted seven minutes, it compares with Jones' monologue in 2015.
After the monologue, Jennings got serious and played the neutral emcee for the rest of the program.
There has been some talk that the Democrats will start a competing event. Wilson reminded us of the number of volunteers and work behind the scenes that goes on to put together the Fancy Farm Picnic political speaking.
It's an effort that will start soon after as the last speaker leaves the stage every year.
Even though leadership stayed home, rank and file Democrats turned out and cheered, hooted and waved signs in numbers comparable to their Republican brothers and sisters.
For Western Kentucky Democrats, especially those running on November's ballot, it was a disappointment that their party leadership wasn't there to cheer them on.