LOUISVILLE — One by one, Republicans and Democrats stood in front of veterans and farmers Monday and lauded the work of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
Perhaps nobody had more nice things to say about Comer than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who put to rest for the time being any lingering suspicions about whether he was covertly backing Louisville businessman Hal Heiner over Comer in the 2015 GOP primary for governor.
Comer, a likely Republican candidate in the race, told a Somerset audience last week that he "cannot be controlled," warning unnamed party leaders about interfering in the race more than two years out.
"I just appreciate the opportunity to come by and pat you on the back for another good idea," McConnell told Comer and the assembled crowd, which included U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, and Andy Barr, R-Lexington; and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
Comer was lauded at the Frazier History Museum for his stewardship of the Homegrown by Heroes program, a marketing tool that allows farmers who are also veterans to display the program logo on their goods or services.
The event Monday was to announce that the program will become a national model and to accept a check for $250,000 from Farm Credit Mid-America for the expanded program.
Comer was ebullient at the event, emceeing as officials spoke, and delighting in the early success of the program his office created in January.
"When you see the Homegrown by Heroes label, that means that Kentucky Proud product was produced in Kentucky by a Kentucky military veteran or by a Kentucky military veteran-owned small business," Comer said.
McConnell, who noted the "mess over in Frankfort" that Comer inherited from convicted former commissioner Richie Farmer, said he had "never seen anybody clean up a mess faster."
"I'm here today... to salute you, commissioner, for the great job that you're doing, and to thank all our veterans, particularly those that are going into agriculture, for all you do," McConnell said.
McConnell and his two Senate race opponents — veteran and Republican businessman Matt Bevin and Democratic Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — participated in Monday's Veteran's Day parade in Louisville.