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Every August, politicians in Kentucky come to Fancy Farm to talk. The St. Jerome’s Catholic Church cooks a barbecue lunch and sells plates and the politicians speechify. This has been going on for 130 years and every so often the national political press and will come to see how the exotic locals barbecue their mutton.

That happened this year because of the sharp ideological contest between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul, the libertarian Tea Partier.

The best coverage is local, so go here and here for the reports from Louisville and Lexington. (Above, Conway, left, and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear listen to Rand Paul.) The tradition at Fancy Farm is for speakers to raise the volume and the rhetoric. Conway described Paul as “risky and radical.” (Haven’t we heard that line before??) A former Louisville city alderman dressed up as “NeanderPaul,” who wandered through the crowd saying he wanted to do away with government. Paul, meanwhile, tied Conway to Obama (six mentions in his speech), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (five mentions) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (once). 

“Jack Conway is for Obamacare,” Republican Mitch McConnell said. “Jack Conway thinks what Barack Obama thinks. He thinks what Nancy Pelosi thinks — that Washington knows best.” Conway fired back: “First, what did Rand Paul say to the families along the Gulf Coast who lost their jobs and their way of life because of BP? ‘Accidents happen.’ What did Rand Paul say to widows of Kentucky coal miners? ‘Accidents happen.’”

• In Virginia’s rural 5th Congressional District, the talk is mostly about the economy, according to Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post. “With polls consistently showing that dissatisfaction with Washington is at or near record levels,” Tumulty wrote, “another word for what voters are feeling right now might be ‘frustration,’ or ‘despair,’ or ‘disgust.’” 

“People are really smart,” said Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. “They know the economic collapse happened before Obama. They hold lots of people responsible, and they’re realistic enough to know you can’t change things overnight. People are more angry at Washington being broken, and the wrong people being helped.”

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