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Location, politics get mixed review at breakfast

FRANKFORT — Politics and the new downtown location were the top topics of conversation Saturday at the 75th anniversary of the Governor's Derby Breakfast.

Opinions on both were mixed.

The free breakfast that Gov. A.B. "Happy" Chandler started as a private get-together for a few friends had over the years turned into a public spectacle with 10,000 to 15,000 in attendance. Even the free breakfast changed in recent years because of state budget woes.

Gov. Steve Beshear eventually started charging $1 for sausage biscuits prepared by the state parks department.

Beshear decided this year to move the breakfast from the Capitol to downtown Frankfort where it cost $8 to get a rib-eye sandwich with chips and a soft drink from the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association. The Kentucky Pork Producers were selling sausage biscuits for $2.

Ray and Nancy Tackett of Lexington won't be back.

"The breakfast used to be quite a sight with the Capitol, but now it's like a flea market," he said.

"It ain't the same," said longtime attendee Bobby Rorer of Lawrenceburg, a Democratic stalwart who said the old breakfast at the Capitol had an "Amen's Corner" where politicians would greet the public.

Kelly Everman, executive director of Downtown Frankfort Inc., said it's hard to change but merchants in downtown Frankfort are thrilled to host the breakfast and hope the tradition will continue.

Beshear said his administration will review every year where to have the breakfast.

The biggest political buzz of the morning came when Beshear encountered Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer on the sidewalk in front of the Old Capitol.

Farmer is running for lieutenant governor this year on a ticket with Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams, president of the state Senate.

As cameras clicked, Beshear and Farmer shook hands and smiled but said little to each other.

They had to stand side by side a few minutes later on the front of the Old Capitol when the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association presented both with a platter of beef to commemorate May as Beef Month in Kentucky.

Probably the candidate for governor working the crowd most was Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, who is trying to collect 5,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot in November as an independent.

With his running mate Dea Riley, a Frankfort political consultant at his side, Galbraith predicted he will have 10,000 or more signatures. "The response has been fabulous," he said.

Beshear, who faces a tough re-election fight this year, was asked if he plans to be at next year's Governor's Derby Breakfast regardless of where it is held. "I sure do," he said, quickly adding, "as governor."

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