GOP groups celebrate growth at rally

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By Kenny Colston

 For the first time ever, five local Republican groups joined together to celebrate their growing political strength with the state’s top GOP officials.

The Republican parties of Henry, Oldham, Trimble, Carroll and Shelby joined together last Friday for the first ever Multi-County GOP Picnic, drawing U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as headliners.

Congressman Thomas Massie and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer joined the state’s two U.S. senators at the event, in addition to dozens of local officials from the five counties.

The event took place in a field in Henry County, just off Exit 28 on Interstate 71.

Henry County GOP chairman Jon Park, the event’s emcee, said organizers counted more than 400 cars in the event’s parking lot, calling the event a success.

“We’re very pleased with turnout,” Park said.

Elected officials delivered red meat speeches to their GOP constituents, as well as praised the five communities for breaking through with increased and continued wins in local elections.

“When you look at the growth of our party in the last decade, look at these counties,” Comer said.

Massie kicked off the speaking by criticizing Congress, even taking shots at members of his own party in the U.S. House of Representatives. He encouraged the GOP to stay on the attack when it comes to the issues.

“Some people say that the House of Representatives should play defense to Harry Reid and Barack Obama,” Massie said in his speech. “I disagree. You sent me to Washington to be on the offensive.”

Both Paul and McConnell criticized the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, with McConnell calling it the “worst piece of legislation in modern history.”

McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2014, also promoted his position as U.S. Senate minority leader as a main reason to re-elect him.

McConnell is facing businessman Matt Bevin in a Republican primary and is likely to face Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, in a general election matchup.

Paul also spoke on continuing to reduce federal spending by eliminating useless grants and research to being smart about defense spending.

Park said the goal is to turn the rally into an annual event, which he said is likely to happen after such high turnout. 

Park also said he got commitments from many of the elected officials in attendance to return again.