Kelley Paul charms crowd in attendace at annual Lincoln Day fundraiser dinner

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, May 4, 2018 — Republicans from the area and afar came together at their annual fundraising dinner Saturday night. The Nelson County Lincoln Day Dinner had a sold-out crowd of about 100 gathered at My Old Kentucky Home Country Club in Bardstown. The theme this year for the local GOP is: Republicans Sprint to the Finish.


With election season in full swing, local GOP hopefuls seeking office spoke, including: Todd Harper and Chris Middleton for Sheriff, Don Thrasher for Judge Executive, Jeff Lear for 4th District Magistrate, Trey Bradley for 5th District Magistrate, James Beery for Jailer, Doug Alexander for Coroner, and Marion Kelly Pulliam for County Clerk.

Judge candidates for the nonpartisan race for Kentucky Supreme Court also spoke; they were: Dan Ballou, Debra Lambert, and David Tapp. Getting an early start on the campaign trail is another candidate Carl Nett, who’s running for Secretary of State; he’ll be on the ballot in 2019. State Senator Jimmy Higdon and incumbent state Rep. Chad McCoy both spoke about their success in Frankfort; both of them have opposition in the general election Nov. 6.

The speech that rang a different liberty bell was the one given by the night’s keynote speaker as she shared a personal story about the American Dream. Kelley Paul, author, former communications manager, and wife of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said she didn’t want to give the typical speech commonly heard at political fundraisers. That’s why she talked about her late grandmother, Julia O’Toole, who she called her “Irish blessing.”

O’Toole emigrated from Ireland to New York CIty at age 19 in 1929. She came in search of her American dream, with $30 to spare and an invitation from her aunt, who worked as a laundress.

From her grandmother, Paul said she inherited faith in this country, appreciation for hard work, and an optimistic attitude. Furthermore, Paul distinctly noted legal immigration, stating “You can’t have open borders and a welfare state”.

O’Toole worked as a maid and housekeeper for a rich woman. A tangible object Paul holds dear is a jeweled and pearl purse her grandmother gave her as a gift when she was a teen. At a White House Christmas party Paul attended with Rand years later, she took the purse and said she could feel her grandmother’s presence. “I knew she was smiling,” Paul said.

She told the crowd she enjoys storytelling, as she does in her book, True and Constant Friends.

“I like to talk about the ideals that we all share as Americans,” she said. “I prefer to tell stories everyone can relate to and to speak to what our ideals are as Americans, not just Republicans.”

She told WBRT Radio and the Nelson County Gazette that Saturday’s dinner was “fantastic” and “delightful.” She was excited to have been invited and to be a part of it. “It was so festive with the Derby season here.”

Robert Augustine, chairman of the Nelson County Republican party, said Saturday’s dinner was one of the better Lincoln Day Dinners in recent years.

“It was a positive and welcoming atmosphere that focused more on things we all have in common, rather than focusing on negativity and division.”

Augustine said he believes the future of the GOP is bright, “as long as we (Republicans) remain true to the basic conservative ideals of free market solutions, individual liberty, and economic freedom.

“I think we stray away from those core values at our own peril,” he said.

Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction benefit activities within the local GOP. The evening’s emcee was Brenda Alexander, president of the Nelson County Organization of Republican Women.


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