Politics & Government

Democrats gather to honor Ford, rally for Conway

Conway Herald-Leader

With just more than a week before voters go to the polls, the state's top Democrats gathered Friday night to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford and rally their troops for the election.

About 25 members of Ford's family, including his wife of 71 years, joined the state Democratic Party's candidates at the Kentucky Horse Park to share memories of the former senator and Kentucky governor who died in January.

Invoking Ford's memory, Gov. Steve Beshear and the man hoping to replace him after Nov. 3, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, challenged the Democrats gathered to work hard in the closing days of the race.

While there was the occasional swipe at Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, the slate of candidates largely reflected on how Ford had affected their lives and careers and how he would want them to win their respective elections.

Counting Ford as a longtime mentor, Conway said that Ford told him, while battling lung cancer last year, that his goal was to live long enough to see Conway inaugurated as the next governor.

"Wendell, he's not here with us now, but he's with us these next 10 days, and we're going to win a great victory," Conway said to applause.

Conway laid out his record as attorney general and continued his campaign themes of creating jobs, expanding early childhood education and making sure that Bevin doesn't "kick a half a million Kentuckians off their health insurance."

With just a few days remaining in a close race, both sides are claiming momentum.

Conway proclaimed Friday night that he and his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly, were going to pull away down the homestretch.

"There are 10 days to go in a hugely important election," Conway said. "Sannie and I have the right message. Sannie and I have the momentum in this race. We're up by a few points, but we're going to pull away and we're going to win."

Most of the Democrats who spoke shared personal stories of things Ford had taught them about politics, winning applause and laughter from the crowd.

Clay Ford, the senator's grandson, gave an emotional speech in which he recalled his late grandfather's commitments to Kentucky and to pubic service.

"If he was here right now ... I think he'd say 'stop talking about me,'" Clay Ford said. "If nothing else, he'd say, 'Go out, work hard, make sure that Jack Conway and the rest of this great ticket gets elected.'"