Cockfighters' Feathers Ruffled in Kentucky Senate Race

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 02:59 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Matt Bevin, a tea partyer challenging Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in the May primary, has ruffled feathers in the Blue Grass State with his recent appearance at a cockfighting rally.

According to local newspaper The Corbin News Journal, Bevin addressed a crowd of 700 at a Saturday event closed to the media organized by the Gamefowl Defense Network. The group’s president told the News Journal the rally addressed ways to change current state law, which deems cockfighting a misdemeanor offense.

Bevin later claimed he didn’t realize he was speaking to a group of cockfighters. He said he thought he was speaking to a group of citizens concerned about state’s rights and overreach by the federal government.

“I’m a politician running statewide, any chance I get to speak to a few hundred people I’m going to take it,” said Bevin.

But Michael Deveraux, president of the Gamefowl Defense Network, told the newspaper there was “never any ambiguity” about the meeting, intended to discuss how to “use the democratic process” to legalize cockfighting.

“The movement is about changing the law, not breaking the law,” Devereaux said.

Bevin later changed his posture, telling Kentucky talk radio host Terry Meiners that although he does not condone cockfighting, or dog fighting, he’s a “believer in the Constitution and in the First Amendment.”

“It’s interesting, when you look at cockfighting and dog fighting as well …. The Founding Fathers were all, many of them, very actively involved in this and always have been,” Bevin said. “These are things that are part of a tradition and a heritage that go back for hundreds of years and were very integral early on in this country."

The cockfighters are steamed at McConnell, threatening to unseat him in the May 20 Republican primary, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, for his vote in support of a $956 billion farm bill that became law this month. Included in the bill was an amendment making it a federal misdemeanor to be a spectator at a cockfight or dog fight.

A conviction could mean a sentence of up to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000. Bringing a minor to an animal fight is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"This will destroy Mitch McConnell in Kentucky," said Craig Davis, president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association.

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