A local election worth following

You may remember Kim Davis, the clerk of a rural county in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even after the US Supreme Court said that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional. She said that having her name on the licenses violated her religious freedom because her faith did not allow for same-sex marriages. She then defied a local judge who explicitly ordered her to issue the licenses and she went to jail for five days for contempt of court while her subordinates issued licenses. Naturally Davis became a hero to the most odious religious bigots and groups such as the Family Research Council, and people like the Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz went to greet her at a rally when she was released from jail.

The position of county clerk is an elected and well-paying position and it seems like nepotism is rife there. Prior to Davis, her mother held that office for 30 years and she hired Davis as an assistant. When her mother retired, Davis ran for the office and won in 2014 as a Democrat but a month after her release from jail she switched to Republican because that is the natural home for bigots. She then hired her son as an assistant.

But Davis now running for re-election next year and she has attracted a number of challengers. The most interesting is one of the people who was refused a license by Davis and who subsequently sued her.

Democrat David Ermold announced his candidacy Wednesday in Morehead. Ermold is one of several people who sued Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in 2015 after she refused to issue marriage licenses because she was opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons.

“We need to restore the integrity of that office,” Ermold said in a phone interview with Reuters after his campaign announcement on Facebook. “I wasn’t treated fairly myself.”

Ermold is a professor of English at the University of Pikeville and this is his first run for office. It is going to be tough since Donald Trump won the county by a 58-37 margin. His platform is to “restore professional leadership, fairness and responsibility to the clerk’s office.”

If Ernold wins, it will be a huge deal despite being an election in a tiny rural county of just 24,000 people. It would have a national impact similar to Danica Roem winning election as a state legislature representative in Virginia as a transgender woman against a bigot in a strongly Republican district.

So let’s hope.

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