MOREHEAD, Ky. (WKYT) – Both Rowan County Clerk candidates hope their race does not garner national attention, but that wish would have been unavoidable if another candidate won the Democratic primary.
This is because one of the candidates was David Ermold, a gay man who was denied a marriage license from incumbent Kim Davis in 2015. This brought the national spotlight to Kentucky, as it happened after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which allowed same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses. Ermold finished runner-up to lifelong Rowan County resident Elwood Caudill, Jr., which is a person Davis considers a friend.
“Someone asked me, ‘What kind of election is this going to be if someone other than Mr. Ermold wins?’ and I said it will be a hometown county election,” Davis says, “That’s what we’re going to have, and it will be a good, clean race. We will be friends after this race is over with.”
Caudill says the national attention the county has received since 2015 is something he wants to stop.
“Everybody is tired of it here, and they’re not wanting it,” Caudill says, “I promised them I would not bring it back.”
Both said financial backing does not play much of a role in Rowan County politics, and they point to Ermold’s well-funded campaign as a key reason.
“If you get hundreds of thousands of dollars from everybody from outside your county, it doesn’t matter because they can’t vote,” Davis says, “You could have half a million. If it’s from all the other lower 48, and if they can’t vote for you, that money is not going to buy you a position for that election. That’s just the way I feel.”
Caudill shared similar sentiments, and he hopes he can win based on his reputation in the county he has always called home.
“How you treat people in this county — that’s what they want to see,” Caudill says, “Fairness and the likableness and the ability to take care of your voters and your citizens is wonderful.”
This isn’t the first time Davis and Caudill have campaigned against each other. Davis, a Democrat at the time, won the party’s nomination by less than 25 votes against Caudill in 2014. Davis switched political affiliations shortly after her denial of same-sex marriage licenses captured the national spotlight.