Local elections are heating up, including one for Rowan county clerk in Kentucky. The position, currently held by gay marriage opponent Kim Davis, is being challenged by one of the men to whom she denied a marriage license in 2015. This continues a trend of everyday people defiantly challenging incumbents with whom they have personal scores to settle, which began in the Virginia elections this November.
David Ermold formally announced his plans to run against Davis Wednesday, and submitted the documents directly to Davis.
It's official. I'm in! I am proud to announce my entrance into the race for Rowan County Clerk! I am running to restore the people's confidence in our clerk’s office. Please visit my campaign website at https://t.co/Vm2myvRgIV where you can learn how to support our mission.
— David Ermold (@DErmold) December 6, 2017
Ermold, a professor and activist, married David Moore in 2015, despite Davis’ attempts to block the couple's marriage. Though the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage was protected under law, Ermold and Moore's attempts to get a marriage license were denied multiple times. Davis’ refusal to sign the license drew national attention to the enforcement of Supreme Court decisions on a local level, as well as the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ equality against the religious right.
Kim Davis is seeking re-election (she changed parties and is now a Republican) and has stayed busy since 2015, including her brief time in jail after refusing to grant the marriage licenses, and a recent trip to Romania to speak out against gay marriage. Ermold is one of four Democratic candidates looking to obtain the nomination and run in 2018. There was attention paid to his speculative run in November, especially on Twitter after he shared content about his run and also tweeted:
According to his website, Ermold’s platform is based on leadership, fairness and responsibility, and he’s focused on issues relating to voting accessibility and the fact that the "county clerk’s office has been in the hands of the same family for almost 35 years.” As the Lexington Herald Leader reported, Davis previously worked for her mother while she was county clerk, and Davis’ son is also employed in the office.
Ermold said in a statement, “We must recommit ourselves to embracing the diversity within our community, and we must stand strong against those who have turned their backs on our people to pursue the divisive agenda of outside politicians and organizations.”
One of the bright spots of 2017 politics has been local elections in which people are standing up to those who oppose their values. This includes women who have won races against GOP members who opposed the Women’s March and reproductive justice, like Ashley Bennett who unseated Atlantic County Freeholder John Carman. Carman shared a sexist meme on Facebook about the Women’s March early in 2017, and this, plus Carman’s failure to apologize at a meeting, pushed Bennett to run. In Virginia’s state legislature race, Danica Roem, a transgender woman, won against incumbent Bob Marshall, a leader of Virginia’s discriminatory bathroom bill.
It’ll be a long road to election day 2018 for David Ermold, especially in a county Trump won with more than 50 percent of the vote. However, as Ermold told Newsweek, “I just cannot sit by and just let her take that seat without a fight.”