The Kentucky county clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will run for re-election in 2018, facing voters for the first time since her protest against gay marriage launched a national uproar from rural Appalachia.
An attorney for Kim Davis confirmed she will seek a second term. Filing for Kentucky’s 2018 election cycle opens Wednesday.
“She loves her job and she loves the people,” said Mat Staver, founder of the Florida-based law firm Liberty Counsel that has represented Davis. “I’m sure (the election) will probably have more attention because of who she is, but you know she doesn’t have any major concerns about it.”
A spokeswoman for Liberty Counsel said Davis was unavailable for comment because of a medical procedure.
Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses in 2015 after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Five couples sued her, and a judge ordered her to issue the licenses. Davis refused and spent five days in jail.
When she was released, she altered the marriage license form so it would not include her name. The state’s Democratic governor at the time agreed to recognize the licenses. The state legislature then changed the law so clerks did not have to sign their name on the licenses.
In July, a federal judge said state taxpayers had to pay the more than $220,000 in legal fees for the couples that sued Davis. The state has appealed the ruling, but it might not be resolved before the 2018 election.
“It’s hard for her to make the argument that the $220,000 she has cost taxpayers is a good value for Rowan County residents,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign.
But Staver said the money would not be an issue for Davis, noting it would not come out of the county’s budget.
Davis was elected as a Democrat, but switched parties to become a Republican shortly after the controversy erupted. Rowan County is a Democratic stronghold. While its voters overwhelmingly elected Donald Trump for president, nearly all of the local elected officials are Democrats.
Lincoln Caudill, vice chairman for the Rowan County Democratic Party, said no one has announced they will challenge Davis yet. Caudill plans to run for judge-executive, the county’s top elected position.
“I know (Davis has) created a controversy in the county and the farthest I can stay from giving an opinion on it, that’s what I plan to do,” he said.