LOUISVILLE -- Politics has a family flavor in Kentucky, and to a surprising degree, the Obamas are family here in Louisville, even if they are not much liked elsewhere in the commonwealth.
Early in his career, then-Senator Barack Obama caught the eye of a young entrepreneur, Matthew Barzun, and his wife, Brooke Brown Barzun. They have been one of the more prominent younger professional couples in town -- he the grandson of historian Jacques Barzun; she a member of the Brown-Forman distillery family -- and have been active in Democratic fundraising circles.
When Obama was gearing up for his first presidential campaign, the Barzuns were key engineers of a rally in Louisville that drew an astonishingly large early-campaign crowd. They became two of Obama's important Southern, "red state" supporters, as well as leading bundlers for the campaign -- and were rewarded with the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm in 2009.
Now the Barzuns are back in Louisville and gearing up for 2012. Michelle Obama was in town for a fundraiser recently. Matthew is now spending much of his time in Chicago, where he serves as the campaign's national finance chairman.
At a brunch here Thursday morning, it was Obama's old Kentucky home, with attendees like the Barzuns and former finance director Julianna Smoot, who is also now helping to run the campaign in Chicago. The Barzuns are having two parties, on Thursday and Friday nights, and the bundlers will be thick upon the ground.
It's highly unlikely that Obama will win Kentucky, but he should do just fine in Louisville.