MURRAY — Kentucky Democrat Rocky Adkins did not have his acoustic guitar with him Friday morning as he made a stop in Murray as part of a campaign tour of far-western Kentucky.
However, the current minority leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives said that instrument has helped inject a shot of momentum to his quest to claim his party’s nomination for governor in the upcoming May primary. Adkins’ first television ad, released in early April, shows him playing his guitar with friends at a location in Bath County with the theme of the piece being “Do you know me?”
“It has helped. I’ve had many, many people coming up to me on our stops around the state saying that they’ve seen it, and the vast majority of them say they liked it,” Adkins said during his stop at the Calloway County Courthouse in downtown Murray.
“From rural places to urban places we’ve visited since that commercial started, I’ve had a lot of people tell me, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen it, and it made me smile.’ I like that because it talks about some really important issues.”
One reason Adkins, who is from Sandy Hook in Elliott County near the Virginia state line, thinks his campaign is starting to take hold with voters is because he said that ad shows how he himself has dealt with the same kind of problems many Kentuckians face. Several years ago, he was with the now-defunct Addington Enterprises, which was associated with the coal industry, and suddenly found himself without a job.
Adkins has come back to start his own business, R.J. Enterprises, a consulting business that focuses on energy and transportation. He also is a cancer survivor.
“My story is one that a lot of people can relate to. The day I lost my job? That’s a day I’ll never forget and that is the same feeling so many people have had,” he said, relating that to his home area in the eastern Kentucky mountains, where thousands of coal jobs have been lost the past several years.
“There is no question that (the ad) is something that was needed because it is important that voters be able to relate to who you are, and I think that’s why we’re gaining momentum. The energy where we have been the past several weeks has been tremendous and it’s still growing. I’m very excited and I’m feeling really good. We’re going to win this race.”
Recent polls have shown current Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear of Louisville with the lead in the race with former state Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen of Lexington in second, but Adkins believes he has the edge when it comes to a time-honored method of attracting voters: grass-roots campaigning.
“It is still important to have boots on the ground, especially here in western Kentucky,” he said. “We’re talking to ordinary, everyday people and they’re seeing that I am like them. I’m a moderate, middle-of-the-road Democrat who can be the one to hit the ground running from Day 1 in office and can bring Democrats and Republicans together.
“Plus, I’m seeing that voters want someone with experience in government (he has been the 99th District state representative since 1987). And there is no better place to get the training you need in Kentucky government than the House of Representatives.”