McKim: Bevin 'did what he'd said he'd do'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the last in a series of stories on the Fancy Farm picnic weekend festivities.

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

I don't know if Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes expected to share the Fancy Farm stage with Kentucky's Republican governor.

She arraigned him in absentia, anyway.

“It’s a hot one, folks,” the secretary of state opened her stump speech. “People are sweating here today like Matt Bevin at a KEA meeting.”

If he was perspiring, it was elsewhere. 

Who could blame Bevin for going AWOL?  According to the latest Morning Consult poll, he's about as popular as a wet dog at a wedding.

He ranked 46th out of 50 state chief execs in job approval, the survey said. Only 29 percent of Kentuckians polled gave him the thumbs-up. 

Visions of more peeved teachers--folks he called "thugs"--probably gave him pause, too. A slew of them sported hard-to-miss fire engine red tee shirts at the state's premiere political picnic. Some packed pointedly anti-Bevin signs. 

At least his mug didn't end up on a larger-than-life, homemade, poo-shaped emoji poster. Damon Thayer's did.

Thayer is the Senate GOP Majority Floor Leader and Bevin's Mini-Me in the legislature's upper chamber. 

Bevin's bottom-feeder poll numbers suggest a rising tide of buyer's remorse. (He's yet to say if he'll seek another term.)

Even so, I know of some teachers who voted for Bevin. So does Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association. 

"I think they didn't expect this kind of attack on their pensions and efforts to privatize the public schools through charters," said McKim, who stopped to chat while seeking a shady spot to deploy his red canvas folding chair.  

McKim said he was also questing for Fancy Farm's "fantastic barbecue." But he added that his main goal was making "a statement about the importance of public education. I think educators are part of organized labor, and we have to stand together."

This retired teacher who carries KEA and AFT cards does, too.

Several members of AFL-CIO-affiliated unions mingled with the teachers. A pair of big United Steelworkers flags fluttered in the weak breeze that did little to beat down the scorching heat and steamy humidity typical of Fancy Farm picnic day.

Though Bevin and the GOP declared open season on public employees, notably teachers, in the last session of the legislature, McKim believes that most voters back home value those who teach their kids and grandkids.   

I agree, but I'm still scratching my head over why any teacher (or union member) would vote for Bevin.

On the campaign trail, he promised he'd push for a "right to work" law and for repealing the prevailing wage. He was all in for charter schools. He had public pensions in his cross hairs.

"I think a lot of people get desensitized to almost anything a politician says," McKim suggested. "They think that you really don't know what politicians are going to do until they get into office, and so they gave Bevin a shot.

"But he actually did what he said he'd do."