By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — The Democratic judge executive of the state’s largest county says agriculture commissioner candidate Bob Farmer is no longer welcome in Pike County because of disparaging jokes Farmer made about Eastern Kentucky.
Farmer issued an apology Tuesday after Republicans pointed out comments Farmer made about inbred Eastern Kentuckians at a performance at a dinner theater in Danville, Ind.
In the routine, Farmer said that Eastern Kentucky was a place where the cars were on blocks and the houses were on wheels. Farmer also joked that the FBI had a hard time working in Eastern Kentucky because the DNA was the same and there were no dental records.
The outtakes from the performance were posted as part of an internet advertisement paid for by his Republican opponent, Rep. Jamie Comer.
Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford, a Democrat, said in a letter to the Herald-Leader on Wednesday that Farmer is “no longer welcome here.” Rutherford said that Farmer, a marketing executive who also gives performances and speeches across the country, was in Pike County in April before the May primary.
“During his visit to Pike County in April of this year, he was treated with the utmost respect,” Rutherford said. “And, by the way, I don’t know if he noticed but I had shoes on and all of my teeth.”
In one clip, Farmer says he didn’t think that people in Eastern Kentucky trusted him because he had all of his teeth and was wearing shoes.
“We are, by nature, a forgiving people here in Pike County and Eastern Kentucky,” Rutherford wrote. “But it is also our nature not to reward anyone who makes disparaging remarks about us with a vote, whether it be in a joking manner or even in general conversation.”
Brandon Roberts, a spokesman for Rutherford, said Rutherford will not vote for either Comer or Farmer in the November general election.
Farmer, who is also the chief spokesman for the Farmers’ Almanac, bested four opponents to win the Democratic primary for the state’s top agriculture job. Comer, who is a cattle rancher, beat his Republican opponent by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.
On Tuesday, Farmer apologized for the comments, saying that it was part of his routine and that he did not mean to offend anyone. The routine was part of a DVD that was released in 2006.
Farmer’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Rutherford’s letter.
But Wednesday, Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said that Farmer should step down as a candidate for agriculture commissioner, citing the negative backlash.
The state Democratic Party stood by comments Wednesday made by its party chief on Tuesday. Dan Logsdon, the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Tuesday that Farmer needed to apologize for his comments.
“Mr. Farmer has apologized for his offensive remarks, which he needed to do,” Logsdon said. “His comments were neither funny nor appropriate.”