The loudest roar against Republicans uttered at the state Democratic festival Saturday in Lexington came from the party's lion, former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford.
Ford, 85, who is known as "Mr. Democrat" for reaching the leadership position of majority whip in the Senate and serving as governor of Kentucky in the 1970s, told a partisan crowd of several hundred at The Red Mile that Kentucky needs to elect a Democratic U.S. senator next year.
"We've got two dummies up there; now we're going to change," he said.
Asked later whether he was referring to Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, who has decided not to seek re-election next year, Ford only smiled.
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He then told reporters that he had said "lot of dummies" in Washington and that maybe they misheard him because of too much wax in their ears.
Regardless, it was open season on Republicans as party leaders including Gov. Steve Beshear and retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, the keynote speaker, called for the election of more Democrats.
Beshear said Democrats have "just started" by regaining control of the White House and Congress.
Clark, a retired U.S. Army general who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, said Kentucky is "one of the most bellwether states in America" and that the Bluegrass State should show in next year's mid-term elections "that we are going to move away from the politics that brought this nation to near bankruptcy."
To cheers, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Woodford County said Republicans "have no business of running the United States of America."
He said President Obama has been working feverishly in his first nine months in office to overcome problems he inherited from Republicans.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said it was important for Democrats next year to elect a U.S. senator and "take over the state Senate."
Three of next year's Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate attended the party festival — Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, Attorney General Jack Conway and former U.S. Customs agent Darlene Fitzgerald Price of McCreary County.
Mongiardo, who has been the subject of anonymous recordings of his voice on the Internet in which he heavily criticizes Beshear, said the "few people" who speak to him about the recordings label them as "the same old, dirty politics."
Mongiardo said he has "no clue" who produced the audio. When asked about what he did or didn't say about his boss who supports him in the U.S. Senate race, Mongiardo said he would not dignify them by commenting.
Conway said he would not talk about the recordings.
Conway, who reported this week that his campaign has raised more than $2 million, acknowledged that he contributed from his own pocket "just more than six figures."
He said he wanted to be sure he had reached the $2 million mark and demonstrate to people that he is willing to invest in his campaign.
Price said she is the only candidate in the race who will refuse campaign money from big corporations in the oil industry, banks and pharmaceutical companies.
Also attending the festival was Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, who has announced that he will run for governor in 2011 as an independent.
Galbraith said he wanted to inform Democrats that he "will need all these good Democrats to work with me."