- The candidates have a lot to lose and little to gain at Saturday's Fancy Farm Picnic, says the Lexington Herald-Leader. With a fresh gaffe on Israel this week, "Grimes is in a real danger zone," Sam Youngman writes. "A third of voters don't know enough about her to form an opinion and another third have an unfavorable opinion, according to this week's Bluegrass Poll. Any mistakes she makes this weekend in front of a national press corps will be amplified exponentially." McConnell "has zero margin for error. A gaffe, a misstep or anything that confirms Democrats' and the mainstream media's worst impressions of him, and McConnell could end up back in the popularity cellar with President Barack Obama. Many observers think McConnell, known for his disciplined and fierce campaigns, has lost a step. He needs to avoid at all costs proving them right."
- "It's likely to be one of the few times the two candidates will appear on the same stage," Joe Gerth writes for The Courier-Journal. Organizers of the 2 p.m. political speaking are trying tamp down "the constant chanting and noisemaking that has made the event more a test of will than a political speaking contest," Gerth reports. "There's a long tradition of showmanship and heckling at Fancy Farm, but it wasn't always like it is today — where politicians have to strain to be heard over a screaming crowd." Larry Cox, a former McConnell aide who organized the first mass Republican efforts at the picnic in what was once solid Democratic territory, "said he can't imagine the pleas to scale back heckling and shouting will work," Gerth writes, quoting Cox: "It's part of Fancy Farm now, and it's part of testing the mettle of the contenders."
- writes. "He and Libertarian Party officials are confident they'll hit the mark." If they do, then "The big question . . . is whether his presence expands the pool of voters or siphons away otherwise lukewarm McConnell supporters. The McConnell-Grimes contest is within the margin of error in recent polls. And most political strategists believe Libertarian candidates are far more likely to draw support from traditional Republican voters than Democratic ones." Patterson is not on the list of speakers at the Fancy Farm Picnic, Goldmacher notes.
- Louisville native Perry Bacon Jr. of NBC News says the contest is still "a true horse race" because "Kentucky is not as Republican as its reputation" nationally; "It's still early" and the race isn't consuming Kentuckians; "No one has made a big gaffe," though Grimes is "at times extremely reluctant to answer questions;" and "both candidates have addressed their chief vulnerability," McConnell by heavy spending to shore up his popularity. For Grimes, it's the "unpopularity of Obama and the national Democratic Party. ... Her aides emphasize that she has never actually met the president," and she has embraced coal. Bacon disputes Grimes's claim that "This is election is not about party control;" he writes, "In fact, it most certainly is, as this seat will play a key role in determining if Democrats win control of the Senate."
- Jamie Fuller of The Washington Post explains "why a picnic with thousands of pounds of barbecue is kind of politically important."
Friday, August 1, 2014
Aug. 1 rolling roundup; pre-Fancy Farm events today in Paducah, Kentucky Dam, Aurora . . .
Today's pre-Fancy Farm events are the labor lunch in Paducah, the Democratic bean supper at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park and a Republican dinner at Kenlake State Resort Park.