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The Johnson County Democratic Central Committee sponsored their third annual James C. Kirkpatrick Heritage Dinner at the Johnson County fairgrounds near Warrensburg on Saturday night. Johnson County Auditor Kay Dolan Reynolds (D) was presented the James Kirkpatrick Award, honoring her public service in the tradition of the legendary Secretary of State. Former Senator Jean Carnahan was the keynote speaker.

Senator Jean Carnahan greets a fellow Democrat before the start of the Kirkpatrick dinner in Warrensburg on Saturday night.

Johnson County Auditor Kay Dolan Reynolds (D) was presented with the James C. Kirkpatrick Award.

Senator Carnahan’s remarks:

Jean Carnahan: …I’m engaged more fully in what I’m doing than ever before because I believe that we need to be right now. It’s important. It’s the time, and I feel very strongly about a number of things. So I’ve been doing some writing and speaking. I have a blog called firedupmissouri dot com. Do any of you ever go over and read that? I hope you do. [applause] Every day we expose the hypocrisy of Republicans. And believe me, that takes up a lot of space. [laughter] And we highlight the good works of true public servants….

….This mid-year election, as it shapes up, Republicans are already telling us what they’re going to do, aren’t they? They’re telling us their intention. They tell us they’re going to run on the repeal of health care. Well, if you recall from your history, back in nineteen thirty-six, Alf Landon ran against Roosevelt on the platform of repealing health care. That worked so well. [laughter] And just imagine now one of your local Republican candidates, he’s got the Republican platform in his pocket and he’s going door to door and he goes up and he knocks on the door and an elderly man comes to the door and he says, ” I will tell you about the Republican platform and what we’re gonna do for you.” The man says, “Okay.” He says, “We’re going to reinstate the donut hole in Medicare so that you have to pay more.” The man looks a little confused. He says, “And, and we’re going to take our adult children from ages eighteen to twenty-six and we’re gonna take them off your health care policy. What’s more, you know that pre-existing condition clause that used to be in your insurance contract? We’re gonna put that back in again.” And the man’s really becoming more and more confused. And finally he says, “What’s more, we’re gonna do away with tax credits for small businesses so they can get health care. And best of all, we’re going to take health care coverage away from thirty-two million people.” Well, with that, the man at the door thinks he is talking to an absolute idiot. He slams the door in his face. And I tell you friends, I believe this is what Missourians are gonna do for the Republicans come November. [applause]…

Approximately two hundred people attended the event at the Johnson County fairgrounds.

…You know, Missouri is a swing state, [inaudible] we have a fight on our hands for the United States Senate.  But let’s put this thing in perspective. As my daughter often says, “I’m not running against George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, I’m running against Roy Blunt.” [laughter] And in doing so, she is running against the ultimate Washington insider, someone who has been living on the shores of the Potomac for thirteen years, someone who could be the poster child for the way things are doing, going wrong in Washington.  He was the right hand man for Tom DeLay, directly involved in the reckless spending and the earmarks and most recently, the Wall Street bailout.

What we want is somebody who will fight for us for a change, somebody who will stand up for Main Street, not rollover for Wall Street, somebody who wants to fix Washington, and not just add to its brokenness.

Well, Robin has the experience to fight back.  I think maybe growing up with three brothers had something to do with that. But, when she went to the Secretary of State’s office she discovered that being a fighter could make a difference. She found that there were thousands of Missourians who had been cheated out of their money by fraudulent investment schemes. And she went after those companies, no matter how big they were, or how important they were…

…What many people don’t know is that, uh, in two thousand, uh, since two thousand she’s been running the family cattle farm. And having that background I really think is gonna come in kind of handy for her in Washington because, as she says, she’s learned to recognize bull. [laughter]

Well, voters told Robin what they thought of her when she ran for reelection. They gave her more votes than they have ever given anyone in Missouri history. So I think with that kind of support she can win. And with that fighting spirit she can make a difference in Washington.

Well, last week I, uh, I watched that historic health care vote and I thought at the times of the words that Robert Frost wrote when he said, we have promises to keep. And as Democrats we have promises to keep.  With the American people who count on us, who believe in us, and have no other place to turn. Over seventy-five years ago a woman by the name of Francis Perkins was picked by President Roosevelt to be the Secretary of Labor, the first woman to ever be picked to hold a cabinet level job. She told the president, she said, don’t call me to Washington unless you intend to turn me loose. And the president did. And she arrived in Washington with a hand written list of things she wanted to accomplish. And when we look at that list we think, gosh, those seem so commonplace. And yet those were really radical things in that day. On that list was the forty hour work week, minimum wage, child labor laws, work place safety regulations, and social security. It was a messy fight but Democrats endured and they won the victory. And with that victory Democrats changed what it means to be a worker in America. They changed what it means to grow old in this country. We now have hope and we now have health.

So what did the republicans do? They denounced these accomplishments every step of the way, saying they were going to put us on the road to socialism. They made the same claim when Truman tried to get through a health care program and increase minimum wage and give tax breaks to middle class families. Doesn’t this all sound very, very familiar?

When Truman was dealing with that idiot Congress, Senator Robert Taft said, we’re not giving him anything. Doesn’t that sound familiar? But that year Truman ran against the do nothing eightieth Congress and he won a stunning victory. And since then Democratic Congresses have given us the GI Bill, Peace Corps, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, the school lunch program, Head Start, family and medical leave, and Title 9….And soon we will give America health care reform and wall Street reform. [applause]….

….So, what should you and I do as democrats during these next seven months? Too many voters think it doesn’t make any difference what we do. But in Missouri grass roots activity makes a big difference because elections here are decided by the narrowest margins. Obama lost Missouri by thirty-nine hundred votes out of three million cast. That was one tenth of one percent of the vote that was cast. Keep in mind these votes, these, uh, these numbers as well during the coming months. Forty-five percent of Missourians will vote Democratic, no matter what happens. You can take that to the bank, foty-five percent of them will do it. Forty-Five percent will vote Republican, you can count on that. That leaves that little sliver of ten percent and we will spend millions of dollars and fight very hard for that ten percent, a group that often bases its vote on who talks to them last. And all the while we will be trying to get out our base vote and in an off year election where there’ll be hundreds of thousands of fewer votes. What you do here in Johnson County can and will make a difference….That we realize that what you do when talking to friends and neighbors and getting them to register makes a difference in Missouri. We win by very small amounts. And we lose by very small amounts….

….Everybody needs you. Now, imagine living your life realizing that everybody really needs you. Jimmy Kirkpatrick understood that. Francis Perkins, that early labor leader, understood that. Robin Carnahan understands that. Mel Carnahan understood it. Democrats understand that we need to be there for each other. Our country needs you, our party needs you, and these candidates need you.

And since I’ve been far too serious with you tonight, I’ll conclude with the words of the humorist H.L. Mencken who once said with a straight face, “In this life of sin and sorrow there’s always something to be thankful for. I’m thankful I’m not a Republican.” [laughter][applause]