The two Graves County political breakfasts are all about firing up the base. The size of the events ebb and flow with the tides of election years. The rule of thumb in years past is without a gubernatorial election, the events are small, quiet and attended only by the most faithful. 2010 is the year that rules of thumb got thrown out the window. Both breakfasts saw large, enthusiastic crowds.
We attended the Democratic breakfast. Headlined by Governors Beshear and former Governor Patton (who made only brief remarks) with an all male cast on the dais, the breakfast was a rehearsal for speeches that would be given later in the day. Rhetoric was most certainly not meek the inherit the earth, but to the victors will go the spoils.
Governor Beshear was in fine form without running mate Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in attendance. He was part of the opening act, singing “My Old Kentucky Home” with Judge Shea Nickell and former Governor Paul Patton. Preaching to a congregation of five hundred faithful, Beshear's sermon on the shortcomings of senatorial candidate was loud and proud. House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo, House Whip Rocky Adkins, Treasurer Todd Hollenbach and others followed the leader in the revivalist frenzy of GOP bashing.
Candidate Jack Conway got his mojo back. When a voice from the crowd urged him to “Give ‘em hell, Jack!” Conway quipped that he “would tell the truth and give them heck” gently mocking his lapse into profanity in 2009 that led to institution of a no cursing from the podium rule by St. Jerome Picnic organizers.
The most fun of the breakfasts is to have the time and space to move around in air conditioned comfort, exchange gossip with folks unseen since the first weekend of August a year ago. Frankfort insiders mingled with local Democratic officials.
Reporters attending the parallel GOP event told us that the crowd was standing room only. US Representative Eric Cantor, the Minority Whip, delivered a reasoned speech on why Republicans should take back the House. One observer noted that the crowd’s enthusiasm surpassed anything he had seen in recent years.
It’s all prelude to a rambunctious campaign cycle. The bases are bigger, more committed and eager for a fight. They don’t need their leaders to keep telling them the importance of November 2nd.
Hang on. It’s going to be a wild ride.