Tribune-Courier General Manager
CALVERT CITY – Parking spots and standing room may have been hard to find at the annual Bean Dinner at Kentucky Dam Village Friday night, but the enthusiasm among Democrats was abundant.
Organizers of the event said the crowd was record-breaking, fueled in large part by the attendance of Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Grimes is challenging five-term incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader and longest-serving U.S. senator in Kentucky history.
Before taking the podium to address the crowd of more than 600 people Grimes spent nearly an hour working the room of supporters, stopping to shake hands, kiss babies and share a message of change directed to middle class voters.
In her keynote address before the party faithful Grimes continued her message of change to tackle the issues of student loan debt, medical care for veterans, the minimum wage and equal pay for women.
“Today they (graduates) are facing student loan debt as high as their mortgage,” Grimes said. “Students want degrees, not debts.”
Grimes told the group she was prepared to be Kentucky’s Senator for the issues facing the state through 2020.
“Kentucky is ready for a senator for today and tomorrow. We are electing the future of the commonwealth,” she said.
“The gridlock in Washington has consequences,” she told the group.
“We can’t afford six more years of Mitch McConnell in Washington. There are two very different visions for our country. One to move us forward and one that wants to hold us back.”
Grimes closed her stump speech by asking the crowd to repeat, “Hit the road, Mitch, and don’t you come back no more.”
Results of the most recent Bluegrass Poll show Grimes trailing McConnell by two points three months in advance of the November general election.
As expected, the event drew a number of national journalists on their way to Saturday’s Fancy Farm picnic, with reporters from The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Fox News, The Courier Journal and several reporters from Louisville television outlets in attendance.
Also in attendance were candidates for local and state offices and a who’s who of current and former Kentucky leaders including former Kentucky governors Martha Layne Collins and Paul Patton.