Rocky Adkins is a local resident we can all be proud of.
Adkins gave it a big-time run for the governor's office in the Democratic primary Tuesday night. He came up just short. Yet, in our view, Adkins is a huge winner for all of us. He is a winner because of his courage, grace and dignity in pursuing the governor's office regardless of what the total vote count turned out to be.
Pretty much everyone in Eastern Kentucky is familiar with Adkins' stellar biography and career. He is from Sandy Hook, Ky., and in a Commonwealth where Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort seem to dominate virtually every aspect of public discussion, Rocky's heritage is an asset for all of us here in Eastern Kentucky. He's at heart a rural person who understands the challenges and obstacles rural people and communities are up against. He played basketball at Morehead State and rose to the top. He has three-plus decades of very significant political experience in Frankfort. He's been a huge supporter of Morehead State University. It's fair to say that without the leadership of Rocky Adkins Morehead State would not be anywhere near what it is today -- a stellar place that offers Eastern Kentucky youth a top-notch education that we would put up against any institution in the country. The dining hall at MSU is named after Adkins. It is a gorgeous, expansive, high-quality facility which is a fitting tribute to the career and contributions of Adkins to this region.
We are convinced Adkins runs on his beliefs and doesn't change his opinions based on political winds. He is a pro-life Democrat. This seems to be a rarity these days. With calls for significant pension reform coming from every corner of the Commonwealth Adkins repeatedly said much of the political measures necessary to fix the pension system are already in place and that the key is proper funding. While we may disagree with some of Adkins' positions on this issue one thing is clear: his answers never changed on pensions in the times we've repeatedly asked him about it.
For a window of time on election night there seemed to be a better-than-average possibility that Adkins just might pull off what most would consider a huge upset. He was leading for a big chunk of the night. It's important to note that Eastern Kentucky Democrats overwhelmingly supported Adkins. In Boyd County it appeared Adkins won 93 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary. In Carter County he won 2,820 votes to Andy Beshear's 165. That is a staggering level of local support. It tells us a lot about how Eastern Kentucky residents feel about Rocky.
When the big city and western Kentucky votes came in Adkins lost his lead. On this night it was not to be. As is always the case Adkins carried himself with grace as he conceded defeat, calling his ability to run for governor "a great honor."
Mr. Adkins the honor was all ours. You've represented Sandy Hook, your region and your state with great distinction. We all know that in life we learn and grow from our defeats. The rest of Kentucky is now keenly aware of who Rocky Adkins is and what he stands for. This defeat, we are sure, is painful, but we all know that defeats often lead to even greater victories.
As we await that greater victory, we say thank you to Rocky Adkins for giving Eastern Kentucky the voice it rightly deserves. You've made us all proud.