David Ermold, who lost the Democratic primary to Elwood Caudill Jr., is accusing Caudill of homophobia and saying Davis, running for reelection as a Republican, has the courage of her convictions, the Associated Press reports.
“I just want him to lose. I would rather Kim Davis win,” Ermold said of Caudill. “At least Kim Davis has the integrity to stand up for what she believes in. Elwood Caudill is a liar.” Ermold, an English professor and local activist, said he won’t vote for either one.
His issue with Caudill stems from social media posts that accuse the candidate, a longtime local government official, of using homophobic terms. “Ermold said he has no firsthand knowledge of Caudill, 45, using antigay slurs,” the AP reports. “But he has posted screenshots of others on Facebook making the accusations, calling Caudill a bigot and urging others not to vote for him.” At least one person has withdrawn an accusation, saying his account was hacked.
Caudill said he is disturbed by the allegations. “It’s really hurt me,” he told the AP. He has a copy of Facebook messages from the man whose account was reportedly hacked, showing them when he campaigns door-to-door to convince voters he’s not a homophobe, he said. He also has posted a denial on Facebook.
C-FAIR, the political action committee of the Fairness Campaign, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, apparently does not believe Caudill is homophobic. as today it endorsed him in the clerk's election.
"We're proud to endorse Elwood Caudill Jr. for Rowan County Clerk," C-FAIR board chair Eric Graninger said in a statement posted on Caudill's Facebook page. "Mr. Caudill has repeatedly expressed his commitment to treat all Rowan County residents equally in the clerk's office, which makes him a refreshing alternative to Kim Davis, whose discriminatory actions made Kentucky a laughingstock around the world."
"I believe in every American's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that includes all members of our LGBTQ community," Caudill said in the same post. "I have repeated time and again that I will serve every citizen of this county equally, in every aspect of the duties and responsibilities of the office of county clerk, and I firmly believe our government should never discriminate against anyone for being who they are."
Davis famously refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015, saying same-sex marriage conflicted with her Christian beliefs, so she shut down all marriage license operations at the clerk’s office. After four couples sued and a judge ordered her to resume issuing licenses, Davis defied him and went to jail for five days of contempt of court. The issue was resolved by having one of Davis’s deputies serve same-sex couples, and Kentucky has now changed its marriage license forms so the clerk’s name is not on them, an accommodation Davis had requested.
Caudill lost the primary election to Davis, then a Democrat, in 2014 by only 23 votes. Davis has since switched her party affiliation.