David Ermold returned to the Rowan County courthouse Wednesday, nearly two years after Clerk Kim Davis refused to give him a marriage license because he was gay. This time he’s seeking Davis’ job. (Dec. 6) AP
MOREHEAD, Ky. — In the end, it wasn’t about same-sex marriage, gay rights or Kim Davis. It was about local politics and a seasoned candidate who defeated one who was lesser known.
And as a result, the morality play scheduled for Rowan County this fall has been canceled.
Despite raising 100 times as much as his Democratic primary opponents combined — more than $200,000 from 22 states and Hollywood celebrities like Amy Schumer and Susan Sarandon — the man denied a marriage license by the incumbent clerk will not get the chance to take her job.
David Ermold, the English teacher whose bid to capture the office won national attention, failed to survive a four-person Democratic primary, while Davis, who refused Ermold and his partner a marriage license in 2015 while citing “God’s authority,” had no opposition as a Republican.
Her lawyer, Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, said Ermold was a single-issue candidate motivated by revenge.
“The people of Rowan County want someone who will serve them as clerk, not someone whose only reason for running is spite and vengeance,” Staver said in an email. “David Ermold never had local support and had no clue what the clerk does on a daily basis.”
Davis said in an interview at her office Wednesday morning that “the people have spoken, and they have spoken loudly.”
She said their message is they wanted the election to be about who would make the best clerk.
Morehead Mayor Jim Tom Trent said Ermold lost only because he ran against a better-known and more experienced politician who sought the same office four years ago — and came within 23 votes of defeating Davis in that primary.
Elwood Caudill Jr., a 20-year employee of the county’s property valuation office and a fourth-generation Rowan County resident, got 54 percent of the 3,534 votes cast to Ermold’s 25 percent.
Trent said Caudill was an overwhelming favorite and the “fact that David received nearly 1,000 votes in an Eastern Kentucky town running as an openly gay man says a lot about where our community has come from since the controversy a few years ago.
“The fact he got as many votes as he did shows we don’t have a hate-filled community,” said Trent, a Democrat who was neutral in the primary.
In a book Davis co-authored with Staver this year called Under God’s Authority,…