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Democrats eye the future

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

The Henry County Democrats were boisterous Monday night during their Jefferson-Jackson dinner, celebrating in part a new leadership team.

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During the dinner, Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes did little to dismiss speculation that she may seek a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell, but she did trumpet what she believed were successes at the state level in the 2013 General Assembly session.

Among those successes were House Bills 141, 203 and 222. HB 141, she said, allows for a tax credit that would allow farmers to donate food to food banks; HB 203 made absentee ballot information confidential until after ballots are counted; and HB 222 created an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence.

She also referred to HB 259, which allows military personnel to update their registration online; and the Military Voter Protection Project, which would allow military personnel serving overseas to submit their absentee ballots electronically.

Grimes told those in attendance that her office tackles each day with a saying her grandmothers shared with her. “’Allison, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’,” Grimes recounted.

“We have tried to live each and every day with my team in the Secretary of State’s office with that motto in mind, making sure the people of Kentucky, from here in Henry County to Harlan and in Hazard, all the way over to Hickman and our river counties know how much their Secretary of State cares.

“From making sure that we have the most up-to-date business entity laws so that we truly are keeping our doors open for business, to making sure that when it comes to elections… that every Kentuckian, all eligible Kentuckians have equal access to the ballot box, whether they live over in Park Plaza or on a park bench, because that’s what it’s about, everyone’s voice matters.”

And making sure everyone’s voice matters, she indicated, is one reason she ran for office.

“When I looked around Frankfort, there was a chance of having no women, not a woman’s voice up there after our auditor served her second term, and that was unacceptable to me,” she said.

Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan also addressed the group, saying that for too long, the party has been quiet. “The Democratic Party of Kentucky has stood by and let the Republicans identify who we are,” he said. “I’m very proud of the Democratic Constitutional officers we have in Frankfort. We are telling the people of Kentucky what we believe in, why we believe in it and that’s why we should be electing Democrats.”

Form there, Lundergan took aim at Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

Lundergan said that while it takes “two teams to play this game, we have stood by and let Mitch McConnell, for the last 30 years, take charge of this state with his Repulibcan friends, identifying the issues and identifying what he thinks Kentuckians stand for.

“Let me tell you what I don’t think Kentuckians stand for — we don’t stand for people trying to take away our Social Security benefits. We don’t’ stand for people trying to take away the educational benefits of our young people. We don’t stand for the Republicans in Washington, D.C., taking away the rights of hard working men and women, and then not passing an ag bill for our farmers across Kentucky.”

Democrats, he said, have been successful, in part, because “we have never been successful and gotten to the top and not reached down and remembered our brothers in the bottom,” believe in helping those who cannot help themselves.

He said that while the Democrats believe in coal, “we also believe that our coal has to be removed from the ground in a very environmentally friendly way.

“We can’t take that away from our friends in the east and the west. That’s how they live. That’s how they put the biscuits and the gravy on the table.

“We have to find the balance for all the issues.”

In opening the evening, Democratic chairman Jimmy Pollard said he didn’t really care for the term party.

“You know, the Democratic Party, it just sounds so old fashioned to me,” he said. “I like a Democratic team, because it takes teamwork to pull this off.”

And the Henry County Democratic Team, he said, has a lot of young committee members that are primed to be more active.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said that he and other members in the state’s party leadership encourage counties to do more in their communities. “(We encourage counties to have) a lot of community activities so when they’re calling us Godless heathens and everything else, that people will know, ‘No, no, no, the Democrats, they’re the ones that picked up the ball park out here.’

“We’ve got to stop worrying so much about the lies they tell about us and start telling the truth about them.”

Logsdon, like many others, raised McConnell’s name, and indicated that he believes the Democrats stand a chance at unseating the Senator.

“Folks, he’s scared, and he’s running scared, and we can beat him,” he said. “And I don’t know whose going to run against him, but we’ll have a great candidate. There might even be one in this room tonight, but that’s a decision they have to make in their own time.

“We can encourage, but we can’t judge. We have to let people make their own decisions. Regardless, we can beat him.”

Finally, State Representative Rick Rand told the group that he was proud to be a Democrat, and that the work Kentucky leaders do is important, taking working people to heart.

Referring to Congressman Thomas Massie discussing the Hastert Rule at the Henry County GOP dinner, Rand said that itself was a problem. “That’s the problem in Washington right now,” he said. “They’re too worried about politics and not worried enough about people.

“We’re here today about the future of our party. And I think the future of our party is bright, because I think we’re right on the issues.”