By Melinda Overstreet, Glasgow Daily Times–
Ryan Quarles said people are just now really starting to pay attention to this year’s upcoming elections, and they’ve only got 49 days left.
He’s got that many days to convince Kentucky voters that he’s the better candidate for agriculture commissioner, rather than Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, for example, but he said all the races are trying to generate interest.
Quarles didn’t speak much about himself or his qualification, though, to this particular crowd of about three dozen marking the grand opening of the Barren County Republican Party’s headquarters for the 2015 general election, which is Nov. 3, but rather tried to rally the troops a bit before he had go to another function. He did say his campaign is organizing a fundraiser here in Barren County, and those details would be available soon.
U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., was on hand as well and worked on generating additional enthusiasm for Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin’s campaign, saying he would need all the help he could get to counter the negative attacks from the other side. Bevin is running against Democrat Jack Conway, currently Kentucky’s attorney general.
Guthrie introduced state Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, who spoke about how it means a lot to candidates to have a headquarters where they can come and relax for a bit while on the campaign trail.
“It’s like a safe zone,” he said. “It’s almost like coming home in a place that’s strange.”
He said places like that would be especially welcome for a first-time, statewide candidate who doesn’t know many people in a given area.
Guthrie then continued chatting up Bevin, saying he’d known him several years, since before he was first a candidate for U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell, because they had a mutual Army buddy. He said that if 50 percent plus 1 of Kentucky’s voters could meet Bevin in person, he had no doubt he would win the governor’s seat. He said it’s a critical race.
“It’s that important to our state,” Guthrie said, naming the Medicaid expansion under “Obamacare” as just one issue that needs to be turned around in the next administration.
He expects that the state pension system to be the biggest issues for state government over the next four years, he said.
“There’s not a better candidate we could have picked,” Guthrie said. “He can’t meet everybody, so we have to share [what we know of him].”
The conversation turned to national politics after Buck Manis asked Guthrie whether he understood how upset the private sector is with Washington now.
“We gave you the House, we gave you the Senate, and you haven’t done a damned thing,” Manis said.
Kathy Barlow seemed to agree.
“It doesn’t look like it matters who we have up there,” she said, adding that it seemed they all “just want to take our money.”
A handful of people in the group said Congress needs to take more control and force President Obama’s hand so that he’s the one that gets blamed if the budget process fails and government shuts down.
Manis told Guthrie he wasn’t voting for him next time he’s up for election if he didn’t step up with more assertion to get the jobs done that needed doing.
After several minutes of that, Givens stepped back to the front of the room and redirected the conversation back to the state races, asking what kind of chatter those in the room had heard locally, but not much was said in response to his question.
David Dickerson, a former Barren County judge-executive, pointed out to Guthrie and Givens, that if they were hearing that kind of anger from “the strongest of the strong … Republicans that are Republicans” there, they could only imagine what the other party was saying. As long as the national stage is getting the attention on Fox news every day, it would difficult for them to get fired up about the governor’s race or other statewide races.
Carolyn Manis, Buck Manis’ wife, who was also outspoken about her frustration during the meeting, said afterward that clearly, “We are not happy campers at the moment.”
She said she’s not mad at Guthrie, though, just the situation as it seems to her that Obama does whatever he wants.
“I want him to carry our message to Washington,” Carolyn Manis said.
The event concluded with more talk of unity and working together, including signing up for volunteer shifts, walking neighborhoods on behalf of candidates and putting up yard signs, to bolster local voter turnout.
Bevin is expected in town later this week but only for a local team meeting, not for a public event, said county party chairman, D.T. Froedge.