FANCY FARM — Pedicures were a topic for the candidates for attorney general, and a candidate for agriculture commissioner contended that his experience in shoveling manure on the family farm prepared him for state politics.
With only four minutes each to unload their messages and zing their opponents, candidates for Kentucky's five down-ticket constitutional races tried to make the most of their time at Saturday's 135th annual Fancy Farm political picnic.
In the closely watched race for attorney general, Democrat Andy Beshear, a Louisville attorney whose father is Gov. Steve Beshear, told his Republican opponent, state Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield, that the picnic grounds had pedicure booths.
His comment was in reference to a pedicure Westerfield received before his 2009 wedding. The Kentucky Democratic Party used it in an attack ad released last month, calling pedicures Westerfield's "secret guilty pleasure."
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The ad was based on a report by CN2 about criticism of Westerfield by a former co-worker in Westerfield's personnel file when he was an assistant state prosecutor in Christian County.
The criticism alleged that Westerfield's "personal interests often (took) priority over work duties," including "pedicure vs. arraignments."
Westerfield told Louisville's WHAS-TV that he might have been late for work after doing something during his lunch hour but "never missed a jury trial" and was never reprimanded or chastised by the commonwealth's attorney.
When Westerfield spoke Saturday immediately after Beshear, the Republican said he would welcome going "toe-to-toe" with his opponent.
He said he is the only candidate in the race with prosecutorial experience.
Beshear gave a nod to his politically advantageous heritage, saying he had a "perfectly normal childhood" that included nighttime readings of polling data and watching Comment on Kentucky, a weekly public affairs show on Kentucky Educational Television network.
As attorney general, Beshear said his priorities would include protecting children from abuse, curbing illegal drugs and better protection for seniors.
Westerfield noted that he has worked in the legislature with partisan support on issues that affect every Kentuckian, such as the state's heroin epidemic, juvenile justice reform and dating violence.
Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, a Northern Kentucky farm executive and radio talk show host, is battling Republican state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown to be Kentucky's next agriculture commissioner.
The current commissioner, Republican James Comer of Tompkinsville, ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for governor this year.
Quarles shared with the Fancy Farm crowd his times of shoveling manure to underscore his experience as a farmer.
"Kentucky deserves an agriculture commissioner with a real farm background," he said.
Lawson Spann claimed she is an "eighth-generation farm woman" and said her opponent has spent so much time pursing college degrees that a friend said of Quarles "he doesn't know what he doesn't know."
She pledged to set up regional offices in Eastern and Western Kentucky within the agriculture department's existing budget.
In the race for secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes of Lexington, who is seeking re-election after losing a bid last year for the U.S. Senate, spent most of her time at Fancy Farm rallying support for Democratic candidates and criticizing GOP candidates.
"The Democratic Party has much going for it this year," she said, adding, "Thanks, Donald Trump and Matt Bevin."
For her own political career, she said, "Kentucky, I have just begun to fight. This is a fight for the people I love."
Republican challenger Steve Knipper of Erlanger claimed Grimes spends too much time out of her office, saying she spent half her time last year running for the U.S. Senate.
Democrat Adam Edelen hopes to be re-elected as state auditor, but state Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville, wants to replace him.
Harmon noted that he would get booed at the picnic by some, "even though deep down in their heart they know I'm going to be a much better auditor than Adam Edelen."
He, like many of Saturday's GOP speakers, tried to tie his Democratic opponent to President Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky.
Edelen said little about Harmon but went after Republicans in general.
He said Republicans who want to kick 600,000 Kentuckians off of health insurance with the repeal of the federal Affordable Health Care Act should stop reading Ayn Rand and instead read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
That was a veiled reference to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and the Tea Party, who have mentioned appreciation for Ayn Rand and oppose the so-called Obamacare.
Edelen has been mentioned as a possible opponent against Paul next year in the U.S. Senate race, but Edelen maintains he is solely focusing on re-election.
Running for state treasurer are Democratic state Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro and Republican Allison Ball, a Prestonsburg attorney.
Ball said Nelson has been a member of the liberal state for 14 years.
Nelson said he has never been called a liberal and noted that his NRA rating for guns is "20 points higher than Allison's."