"I never met a Kentuckian who wasn't either thinking about going home or actually going home." — A.B. (Happy) Chandler
Happy was right. And I'm happy to be in the category of "actually going home."
It's a thrill for me to be joining the staff at the Lexington Herald-Leader, and I'm honored to be joining such a wonderful community.
After growing up in Owensboro and graduating from Western Kentucky University, I've spent more than a decade covering national politics from the campaign trail to the White House. No matter where I've been, whether it was the diners of New Hampshire or in the skies aboard Air Force One, Kentucky has always been with me.
Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith was right when he said at his induction to the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame: "You may leave Kentucky, but Kentucky never leaves you."
Now the stars have aligned to allow me to ply my trade in the place that I love most, and it has come at an exciting time in Bluegrass politics. Kentucky is on the precipice of the national political spotlight, and I'm grateful to be coming home in time to see it firsthand.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election race is widely considered to be the hottest in the country next year. It could determine control of the U.S. Senate for the last two years of President Barack Obama's administration.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has already seized a place in the national spotlight, and he is giving every indication that he will make a run for the White House in 2016.
I'm also excited to work with the legendary Jack Brammer, the Herald-Leader's Frankfort bureau chief, covering the issues and players of the state's capital, and I'm looking forward to the commonwealth picking a new governor in 2015.
With the wave of politics heading toward the Bluegrass, please forgive me if at times it seems like I brought Washington home with me.
I've been fortunate to cover some fascinating races and events during my time in Washington and around the country. But I've always felt blessed to be a Kentuckian.
I hope that part of my homecoming will include getting to know as much of the community and as many of our readers as I can. If I can be doing better, please let me know. I've covered two presidents — I can take a cussin'.
My general approach to covering politics is the exact opposite of how I follow Kentucky Wildcat basketball: I don't care how they do it, I want the Cats to win. With politicians, I don't care who wins, but I want to know everything I can about how they do it.
It's up to you who wins and where Kentucky and the nation go in the future. It's up to me to give you all the information I can find to make informed decisions.
I'm joining a great team in the Herald-Leader newsroom, and I hope to perform to the standards of excellence and hard work they exhibit on a daily basis, despite years of tough economic times in the newspaper industry.
My brother is a police officer and a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who lives in Owensboro. So does my mom, a retired school teacher. My sister is a doctoral candidate at UK, studying child psychology and focusing on autism.
I hope to follow them in their proud efforts to serve the people of the community and the commonwealth. Even as a journalist.
I'll be spending the next week in Washington, getting to know and writing stories about the Kentucky connections in our nation's capital. I plan to arrive in Lexington around the middle of October.
In my heart, I'm already home.
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.