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The most hotly contested races of the waning primary season moved into the historic and quaint dining room at Science Hill in Shelbyville on Wednesday night.
More than 100 Democrats gathered for the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and heard from candidates for the national and local races as the last week before elections got under way.
Attorney General Jack Conway, shown in recent polls to be in a dead heat with Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo for the nomination to replace retiring Republican Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate, attended the gathering, as did Mongiardo’s wife, Allie, and candidate Darlene Price.
Conway and Mongiardo will return this weekend, too. Conway will stop at the Dairy Queen on U.S. 60 at 8-8:45 a.m. today, and Mongiardo will visit Cracker Barrel on Mount Eden Road at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Both have been on manic schedules to round up the votes, and their messages were consistent at the dinner on Wednesday.
Keynote speaker Todd Hollenbach, the state treasurer, set the tone by speaking about the positive attitude prevalent in the Democraict Party.
"Democrats find ways to reach out for the human condition," he said. "It takes a lot of shoe leather, and a lot of creativity, but Democrats offer positive solutions.”
And Hollenbach's father, Todd Hollenbach Sr., former county judge of Jefferson County, kept the audience in stitches, particularly by ringing a small bell when a candidate got too wordy.
"I was an alter boy, and I stole this from the church, but I was also county attorney, so I know I am good with the statue of limitations," he said.
Allie Mongiardo said her husband’s touring prevented him from attending.
"He said he feels like he has walked around the Earth four times," she said, amid laughter.
After asking for support for her husband, she conveyed his message, "May the best person win; we need to come together for the betterment of the party."
Conway spoke of the tough times Americans are going through and denounced the practice of the bank bailout. He continued the thread of stressing the positive.
"As Democrats, let's appeal to people's hopes," he said, "Because we are all in this together."
And Darlene Price, who has a criminal justice, law enforcement and military background, came on tough and sassy in the manner of drill sergeants the world over.
"Republicans act like Barack Obama just walked out of the bathroom zipping up his pants," she began, causing a ripple of laughter.
She spoke of her support for term limits and stressed her military values, while denouncing government bailouts.
"If we can give billions to banks, we can take better care of our veterans," she said.
Also on hand was Ed Marskberry of Owensboro, who will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) in November and the men vying for the nomination for the state Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Gary Tapp (R-Shelbyville): David Eaton of Shelbyville and John Spainhour of Bullitt County.
All echoed the need for creating more jobs and promoting economic development.
Eaton was introduced by former governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll, who joked about his age. "The next time I run for office, I'll be 83," he said.
Said Eaton: "I have literally connected in some way to ninety-seven thousand voters in Bullitt, Spencer and Shelby counties. My wife's been doing a lot of campaigning for me, and people tell me, 'Hey, I really like Donna.' So I just be sure to tell them she's supporting me."