It’s that time again! Let’s be honest, every Lincoln Dinner is pretty much the same… every year. However, 2014’s celebration brought a renewed energy and new talking points to the party agenda.
One year after his powerful speech warning possible challengers to Mitch McConnell, State Senate President Robert Stivers brought the house down by preaching a strong message of unity to a room filled with Republicans from each corner of the state. Stivers specifically called for Senator-elect Max Wise & exiting Senator Sara Beth Gregory to stand for recognition. Stivers suggested that the party is moving forward as a unified body, also supporting fellow nominees CB Embry, Julie Raque Adams, and Ralph Alvarado. He concluded his speech by thanking Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer & Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum for their strength and service.
Introduced as “the next President of the United States,” U.S Senator Rand Paul did throughout his typical Libertarian red-meat, but not before pushing his establishment crowd towards a broader agenda on African-American rights. “We have forgotten about the Bill of Rights on occasion but we have also been the party that champions civil liberties. If we say we believe everyone has a right to vote and we’re not out to suppress the vote… new people will listen to us. We go over to the West end and say ‘we want your vote.'”
U.S Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell followed RNC Chairman Reince Priebus who opened his speech with an uncharacteristically emotional ‘thank you’ to his wife (Secretary Elaine Chao). Calling her his “not so secret weapon,” McConnell thanked Elaine for her extended service to Kentucky and nation. It was a very touching moment.
McConnell continued his humbling theme by addressing the ‘elephant in the room’ (we crack ourselves up): “When I started my career, we had to beg people to run for Governor and registration we were down 2.5-1 and now we’re down to 1.4-1. The nomination for the Republican Party is worth having. We don’t own these seats, we don’t the nomination, and we don’t own the general election. None of us are above competition and having to fight to represent our party in a general election. I had that experience for the first time and there’s someone here that has yet to be recognized. I would like to ask and stand, Matt Bevin.”
McConnell finished his rallying speech by charging: “If you agree with Rand Paul and me that we need to go in a different direction… the only thing achievable in 2014 is to change the Senate and begin to change America!”
Story Within The Story:
- Louisville Republican Hal Heiner needed a strong showing of support considering this would be the only statewide Lincoln Dinner before the 2015 primary for Governor. Despite being in his hometown, Heiner’s effort seemed flat and forgettable. Plus, it didn’t help that Agriculture Commissioner James Comer received a standing ovation before addressing the audience. Don’t get us wrong, there were pro-Heiner attendee’s, but as we tweeted… the crowd clearly favored James Comer.
- KC Crosbie did receive a shout-out from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as being supportive of recent changes at the national level. Question is, does the Chairman’s ‘pat on the back’ do much for Heiner-Crosbie? Probably not.
- Though McConnell ‘thanked’ Bevin for the competition, very few Bevin supporters were present for the event. And, Bevin’s seat seemed to be in the absolute back corner. If appearing unified was the goal, I would’ve gone out of my way to find Mr. Bevin a VIP seat. Then again, we do not know the full story. So, there.
- We caught up with NKY Senate candidate Wil Schroder who reaffirmed his pro-casino stance. 2015 may be a short session year, but Shroder seems energetic.
- Congressman Andy Barr was the only U.S House member present. Seriously, where were the others? To be fair, Rep. Massie did have a child graduation this weekend. But others? Come on!