David Ermold had been seeking the Democratic nomination for county clerk in Tuesday’s primary in Rowan County, Kentucky. Though Ermold’s high-profile campaign raised more than $200,000 from supporters, including donations from Amy Schumer and Susan Sarandon, he lost to challenger Elwood Caudill Jr. in the four-way primary, the Lexington Herald-Reader reports.
A 20-year employee of Rowan County’s property valuation office, Caudill got 54 percent of the 3,534 votes cast to Ermold’s 25 percent.
Ermold, an assistant professor of English at the University of Pikeville, responded to the loss in a series of tweets Tuesday. Saying he knew winning the primary and unseating Davis would be “a difficult task,” he nonetheless stressed his efforts to “reaffirm Rowan County as a diverse and welcoming community” had “only just begun.”
Later, he thanked his supporters, noting, “Without you, we never could have gotten this far.”
Davis, who changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2015, is seeking another term this fall. The Apostolic Christian made global headlines when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, citing her religious beliefs. She was briefly jailed for contempt of court.
In December, Ermold told HuffPost that he sought the role of county clerk in hopes of uniting residents from both sides of the political aisle after Davis’s anti-marriage equality crusade became international news. He said he’d begun mulling a campaign more seriously last fall, after Davis accompanied Harry Mihet of evangelical Christian nonprofit Liberty Counsel on a nine-day trip to Romania with the aim of encouraging lawmakers to adopt legislation against same-sex marriage there.
“If I’m going to point out something that’s wrong, then I want to be a part of the solution, too,” he said. “The people in our community are ready to move on, and they don’t want Kim Davis out there making announcements, going to other countries and dragging us through the dirt over and over and over again, and that’s what she keeps doing.”
Responding to news of Ermold’s primary loss, Davis told USA Today Wednesday, “The people have spoken, and they have spoken loudly.”
However, the clerk’s 2015 controversy may still influence the election this November. After his Tuesday victory, Caudill released a statement that seemed to hint at his opponent’s opposition to same-sex marriage, noting, “I will serve each and every citizen with dignity and respect.”