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Bevin And Beshear Spar On Fancy Farm Stage

Matt Markgraf

  The 139th Annual Fancy Farm Picnic on Saturday in Graves County saw two bitter political rivals -- Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Governor Republican Matt Bevin -- taking turns on stage bashing each other in a battle for governor.


Bevin began his speech emphasizing that the picnic was a fundraiser for the local St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, and transitioned into reiterating his recent criticism of Beshear. The governor unfurled a banner, showing a Beshear campaign fundraiser hosted by Louisville-based Dr. Ernest Marshall, of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. He held a press conference last week on the same topic.


“This is another fundraiser 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. “Are you on the side of life? Or are you on the side of those who take lives and profit off the ‘blood money’ associated with it? Which side are you on?”


Credit Liam Niemeyer / WKMS
Bevin unfurls a banner at Fancy Farm, accusing Beshear of accepting "blood money" from abortion providers.

  Beshear at a fundraising dinner the night before Fancy Farm, rebuked to that criticism, saying Bevin is “unhinged” and his “violent language gets people hurt.” 


Bevin repeatedly asked “which side” raucous audience members were on, drawing lines between the national policies he rejects, such as sanctuary cities, versus the policies he claims Democrats support. Bevin suggested one who supports Beshear doesn’t support President Trump or“American values” and instead supports socialism.


Bevin led the crowd and the other candidates on stage to say the Pledge of Allegiance and said he hoped the pledge is something everyone agrees on.


Beshear’s speech followed after Bevin. The attorney general didn’t waste time in going after his rival. 


“Thank you St. Jerome and thank you Fancy Farm. And thank you for the Governor for finally showing up,” Beshear said, in reference to Bevin’s absence from the picnic over the past couple years. “I think we gotta thank the Koch brothers, too, for letting him. I guess they didn’t tell him Fancy Farm wasn’t one of their fancy resorts. We hope you enjoyed Aspen, governor.” 


Bevin faced criticism in late July from Democratic state leaders, including Beshear, for attending a trade summit with Vice President Mike Pence in Aspen, Colorado, while the state legislature was in a special session working on Bevin’s pension-relief bill, which he signed into law shortly after its passage. 


Credit Matt Markgraf / WKMS
Beshear speaking at the 139th Fancy Farm Picnic.

  Beshear attacked Bevin for lacking Kentucky roots, something that Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Candidate Robert Conway also jabbed Republicans on. The attorney general also went after a common phrase Bevin says in comparing his leadership as governor like to “shovel out” manure from a barn. 


“The other thing consistent about this governor is that he never takes responsibility. He also talks about shoveling out a barn after a long winter. Well, governor, here in Kentucky, we don’t shovel barns. We muck stalls,” Beshear said. “And while you’re more ‘show pony’ than ‘work horse,’ you left us a lot of manure. And the only thing we’re shoveling out of Frankfort this fall is you, right out of town.” 


Beshear bashed Bevin’s rhetoric against teachers saying that the governor thinks teachers are “ignorant thugs.” Bevin last year said that teachers had a “thug mentality” in protesting his pension reform bill.


The attorney general concluded his speech by saying Bevin’s campaign is about dividing people, while his campaign is the opposite.


"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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