FRANKFORT — This and that as Kentucky political junkies await their yearly fix of speechifying and theatrics at Saturday's 135th annual Fancy Farm Picnic:
Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul opted to skip next weekend's Western Kentucky festivities. Instead, he will be in New Hampshire, trying to revive what appears to be a dying presidential campaign.
In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Paul's support among registered voters who lean red was 6 percent, down from 11 percent in late May. Among the 16 declared GOP candidates considered serious enough to be included in polls, Paul's 6 percent figure left him looking up at almost as many of his rivals as those who remain beneath him.
Numbers in the money game reflect a similar circumstance: Paul dog paddling in the middle of a crowded pool, swimming well enough to leave the shallow end but not strong enough to compete with those in the deep (pockets) end.
Paul's ego probably keeps him in this race through at least a couple of early primaries and caucuses. But it seems highly unlikely Willie Nelson's line, "Miracles appear in the strangest of places," will ever apply to Paul's presidential campaign.
Since state law prohibits him from seeking election to multiple offices on the same primary ballot, Paul asked state GOP leaders to switch from a presidential primary to a caucus in 2016 so he can pursue his White House dreams and run for re-election to the Senate at the same time.
But instead of joining in a show of GOP Fancy Farm unity in a gubernatorial election year, Paul will chase the wind in New Hampshire. Which begs the question: Given his waning presidential prospects, if Paul isn't there for the party in its time of need, why should the party go to the trouble and expense of indulging his White House fantasies by switching to a caucus that will exclude many Republican voters in Kentucky and in the military around the globe?
The Donald apparently has decided to base his strategy for winning the Republican presidential nomination on another Donald's shtick.
Thing is, though, comedian Don Rickles made all of us laugh when he insulted someone every time he opened his mouth. When Donald Trump insults someone every time he opens his mouth, he prompts groans of dismay among rational Republicans embarrassed by his displays of bigotry and idiocy. The laughter (squeals of delight, actually) comes only from Democrats who hope the GOP makes the "Comb-over Clown" its nominee.
Turns out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will put his money where his mouth is in this year's gubernatorial race. Or more accurately, his money-raising skills.
Although McConnell previously endorsed GOP candidate Matt Bevin verbally, doubts remained about how much real support the godfather of the state Republican Party would give to the man who waged a bitter campaign against him in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary and then refused to endorse McConnell in the general election.
But putting another Republican in the Governor's Mansion apparently matters more to McConnell than past enmity, because word came this past week that he will headline a fund-raiser for Bevin in late August. I wouldn't expect hugs and kisses, though. Not yet, anyway.
Bevin publicly opposes gambling even though a couple of his companies invested in gambling stocks for several years. He's tried to rewrite history about his lack of support for McConnell in 2014, his putdown of early childhood education and, in recent days, his opposition to passage of the federal farm bill last year. He needs to wear flip-flops 24/7/365.
If he does win election, this suggests opinionated curmudgeons like me could have the most fun we've had since the last Republican governor left town.
Speaking of flip-flops, if Democrats don't ride state Sen. Whitney Westerfield's penchant for pedicures over job performance all the way to November, they deserve to lose the attorney general's race. The "Me Time" Web ad D's put out is an instant classic deserving wider distribution.
Reach Larry Dale Keeling at email@example.com.