Following floods, typical beards at a Kentucky political event

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Kelley Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic at St. Jerome's Catholic Church in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 6 2022. Paul represented her husband at the political event.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Kelley Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 6 2022. Paul represented her husband at the political event. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

PA

As Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear comforted families displaced by historic flooding in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, Republicans at the state’s premier political event across the state campaigned for the overthrow from office in 2023.

GOP candidates speaking at the Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky broke the Democratic governor’s record earlier in this term, particularly his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’ve also offered support for the recovery efforts Beshear is leading following historic floods and tornadoes.

As his opponents pointed zingers at him, Beshear spent the day meeting families displaced by flash floods that inundated the Appalachian region more than a week ago, killing 37 people. Beshear visited two state parks where some of the sudden homeless have taken refuge.

“Today I am in our state parks, spending time with our Eastern Kentucky families who have been displaced by the catastrophic flooding,” Beshear posted on social media. “These Kentuckians have gone through the unimaginable. My priority is to be there for them.

Last December, deadly tornadoes tore through parts of western Kentucky. The political speech at the annual Fancy Farm picnic — the traditional start of Kentucky’s fall campaign — took place about 10 miles from Mayfield, which was directly hit by a tornado.

True to the event’s reputation for edgy attacks, Republicans wanting to unseat Beshear have taken aim at restrictions the governor has imposed on businesses and gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor said his actions saved lives at a perilous time when vaccines were unavailable. The state’s GOP-dominated legislature has limited the governor’s viral policy-making power in a case settled by the state Supreme Court.

GOP governor hopeful Ryan Quarles called Beshear “a shutdown governor.”

“He shut down our economy,” said Quarles, the state agriculture commissioner. “He closed our ‘mom and pop’ stores. He killed countless jobs and kept the big box stores open.

“People, just because we’ve been through a global pandemic doesn’t mean our rights, liberties and liberties should be thrown out the window,” he added.

In his speech, Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Colmon Elridge came to the defense of Beshear, who routinely receives high approval ratings from Kentuckians in the polls. Elridge praised Beshear’s efforts in leading recovery efforts in tornado-ravaged western Kentucky and said he would do the same for flood victims in the state’s Appalachian region.

“Once again, our governor shows through his actions how we stand up in times of devastation and embrace our fellow Kentucky people, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Kentuckians,” Elridge said.

The governor highlights his management of the state’s economy by asking voters for a second term. Kentucky posted record job creation and investment during his tenure and recently posted its lowest unemployment rates on record.

Beshear was already a committed no-show for the state’s premier political event. The governor originally planned a visit to Israel that coincided with the Fancy Farm picnic. He canceled that trip after massive flooding hit eastern Kentucky.

The Fancy Farm scene was dominated by elected Republicans, reflecting the electoral dominance of the GOP. The event is a rite of passage for statewide candidates, who are tested in stump-style speeches in the August heat while facing jeers and shouts from each other’s supporters. left.

The political attacks were punctuated by calls for continued public support for people rebuilding after tornadoes and facing the same daunting task in flood-ravaged areas.

“We may share a few laughs today, but whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, know that we’re with you,” GOP Gov. hopeful Daniel Cameron said. each other. We help repair and we help rebuild.

Cameron then turned to promoting his candidacy. He touted his endorsement of former President Donald Trump and his work as state attorney general defending Kentucky’s anti-abortion laws and fighting Biden administration policies in court.

“I’m the best candidate and the only candidate who can beat Andy Beshear next fall,” Cameron said.

Two other GOP gubernatorial candidates also made presentations to the crowd and to a watching statewide television audience — state auditor Mike Harmon and state Rep. Savannah Maddox.

The still-emerging 2023 governor’s race is already eclipsing the race for the top of the state this year – the competition between Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Democratic challenger Charles Booker. Paul was unable to attend the picnic due to his Senate duties.

Kentucky’s most powerful Republican, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, was also absent from Saturday’s policy speech. A mainstay at the picnic for decades, McConnell relishes the word fight but also missed the event due to his Senate duties. In a speech to the Senate on Saturday, McConnell said the federal government’s role in the long recovery of flood-damaged areas in his home state will increase once reconstruction begins.

“Soon I will be traveling to the area myself to meet with flood victims and listen to their concerns,” McConnell said. and better than before.

Biden has declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to hard-hit counties in Kentucky.

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