Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 11, 2014

RONNIE ELLIS: Tompkinsville, here we come!

FRANKFORT — I spent some time this week with Republicans Hal Heiner and James Comer as well as Democrat Jack Conway.

Heiner and Conway have announced they’re running for governor next year. Comer plans to announce his 2015 “intentions” from the speaking stage at the Aug. 2 Fancy Farm Picnic.

It’s a pretty safe bet he “intends” to run and will say so at Fancy Farm. But I guarantee he’ll delay any formal announcement until he can go home to Tompkinsville to make it official – probably in the first 10 days of September.

I’m looking forward to that, not just because I’ll have one more candidate to cover but to learn what some of my big-city friends in the press corps make of Tompkinsville. Maybe I can persuade a couple of them to visit Dovie’s for a Dovie Burger.  I might get to introduce them to Alonzo Ford, Wes Stephens or Windall Carter.

You see, I’m a country boy through and through. In my youth I sometimes tried to disguise that after going away to the big university in Lexington and making friends with sophisticates from Trinity and St. X. I recall Tim Heustis, Tommy Schoenbachler, Bob Mills and Kip Knight laughing at my pronunciations of school and pool (they kept asking me what happened to the “L”).

But over time I learned it’s easier for country folk to learn the ways of the city than it is for city folk to learn the ways of Kentucky’s small towns and rural places. Oh sure, those country boys sound funny to city folk but the urbanites never seem to catch on that when they go to places like Tompkinsville, they’re the ones who talk funny.

I remember trailing after Republican gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher in 2003 when he visited Tompkinsville and Monroe County. Neither I nor Fletcher realized it at the time, but the visit was a harbinger of things to come: the Merit System scandal Fletcher would later endure and which provided me lots of stories to write just as I arrived in my present job in Frankfort.

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