One candidate to take the stage was Bob Farmer, who is running for commissioner of agriculture. Farmer earned the ire of thousands of Eastern Kentuckians after his opponent released a video of one of Farmer's past comedy acts which included several unflattering jokes about residents of Eastern Kentucky.
Farmer, of Jefferson County, opened his speech on Saturday noting a difference between the state’s current commissioner, Richie Farmer, with whom he shares the same last name and who is running this year as a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket. Richie Farmer’s ongoing divorce has also made news in media outlets across the state, a fact which Bob Farmer alluded to.
“I’m not related to Richie Farmer,” Bob Farmer said upon taking the stage in Hazard. “I never met him, and I’m still married to the same woman I married 41 years ago.”
Farmer then addressed the controversy that embroiled his campaign in the days following the primary election, again apologizing for his comedy routine that included stereotypical jokes about Eastern Kentuckians being toothless and inbred.
Farmer said his opponent, state Rep. James Comer, released the video of Farmer's comedy routine only after the Republican saw he was down in the polls. Farmer apologized, saying he’s not in the business to hurt people’s feelings, but he also accused Comer of twisting his words.
“He found a tape where I used the word ‘Eastern Kentucky’ and you saw the result of that,” he said. “But I want you to remember first of all, that those words ... hurt feelings, and I’m sorry for that. I’m very, very sorry for that.”
Farmer moved on to talk policy, saying he plans to put an agriculture office in every “corner of the state” if elected, saying that rural economic development is his number one goal.
“The commissioner of agriculture is not just about agriculture,” he said. “It’s about economic development.”
Also taking the stage was Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Lexington attorney making her first foray into statewide politics as a candidate for secretary of state. As Kentucky’s secretary of state Grimes would oversee elections. On Saturday she noted the importance of making sure Kentucky’s elections are on the level and every vote is counted. She said she entered the race to make sure elections are open to every Kentuckian who is eligible to vote.
And while policy made its way into the speeches on Saturday, Republican tactics were also major theme during the fish fry, with Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach taking the first shot at the GOP, which he claims plays the role of obstructionist.
“Republicans are kind of like babies,” he said. “They have a huge appetite on one end and no sense of responsibility on the other.”
Adam Edelen, a former chief of staff for Gov. Steve Beshear who is making his first run at elected office as a candidate for state auditor, never mentioned his opponent, John Kemper, by name, opting instead to spend some of his time on stage listing what he sees as the negatives of Sen. David WIlliams, the candidate for governor on the GOP ticket.
During last year's fish fry, Edelen, then working as Beshear’s chief of staff, said he would pay Williams’ filing fee if he decided to run for governor. He added on Saturday that that was a great investment and is waiting for the bill from the Williams campaign.
“That’s about the best investment a Democrat has ever made, and if they’ll send me an invoice I’ll write a check,” he said.
Other speakers during Saturday’s fish fry included former Gov. Paul Patton and state Rep. Leslie Combs of Pike County.
The 2011 general election will be held on Tuesday, November 8. Other offices up for grabs include governor and attorney general.