Ah, Fancy Farm. A throwback to the old days of politicking when candidates could not use huge dollars to run 30 second ads and actually mingled with the voters. Political careers have been made or broken for well over a century in the blistering August heat of Western Kentucky. Although the weather was unseasonably cool this year, the two main competitors for Kentucky's Senate seat provided plenty of fireworks.
Speaking first as the highest ranking official present as Lt. Governor, Daniel Mongiardo quickly ripped into Jack Conway:
Mongiardo led off the speaking, attacking Conway for his decision to attend Duke University, the implication being that Conway had a privileged upbringing.
Campaign staffers for Mongiardo, a University of Kentucky graduate and a Hazard physician, passed out plastic silver spoons in a bid to drive home the idea that Mongiardo represents the working-class voter.
"He chooses to fight for the silver-spoon issues preferred by the champagne and caviar crowd," Mongiardo said of Conway.
Here is our footage of Mongiardo's entire speech:
In his speech, Conway eluded to the fact that Mongiardo is an ear, nose and throat doctor, and stated he had misdiagnosed him and soon after raised quite a stir:
Conway responded by telling Mongiardo, "When it comes to me, you can't hear the truth, you can't smell the truth and you sure as hell can't speak the truth."
And when a crowd of Mongiardo supporters tried to shout him down, Conway quoted former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, saying, "Go ahead and chew on my hide ... it only grows back tougher," before adding, "You're looking at one tough son of a bitch."
See our footage of Jack Conway here:
And the political fireworks did not end there. Shortly thereafter, Daniel Mongiardo called on Conway to apolegize for his profanity:
The U.S. Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo wants Attorney General Jack Conway to apologize for the use of profanities in his speech Saturday at the Fancy Farm political picnic in far Western Kentucky.
"Daniel feels that the attorney general's profanities on the grounds of St. Jerome parish with church leaders and families there were completely inappropriate and Conway should extend an apology to everyone who was there," Mongiardo's campaign consultant Kim Geveden said Sunday.
Conway's campaign however, remained defiant:
But Conway's campaign manager, Mark Riddle, said there would be no apologies for the speech and Mongiardo should "apologize to Western Kentucky for distortions about Jack's family, record and vision of Kentucky."
Conway, saying he was quoting former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford of Owensboro, described himself as having a tough hide and was "one tough son of a bitch."
However, Kim Geveden the campaign manager for Mongiardo disputed that point:
Geveden said Sunday he often has been to Fancy Farm picnics "and never heard such language there."
He also said he has heard and read that Wendell Ford often referred to his "tough hide" but never called himself "a son of a bitch."
"If Ford said that and they are quoting him, Conway and his people should produce it," Geveden said. "I've talked to a lot of Democrats today and no one could recall that."
Regardless, Geveden said, "Conway's remarks at a church picnic were not appropriate for someone who wants to serve Kentucky in the U.S. Senate."
Riddle explained that Conway's campaign is simply seeking to fight, and Fancy Farm is known for such elevated rhetoric:
Asked if Conway will be using profanities on the campaign trail, Riddle said, "This campaign will come down to who has fought more and is the best on the issues. That is us.
"There were elevated comments from everyone at Fancy Farm, which is traditional."
One thing is certain this is going to be one tough, knock-down drag-out fight for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in Kentucky. Neither of these guys seem willing to back down an inch and there is a long way to go. By the heat of Fancy Farm next year however, someone will have emerged bruised but victorious.