Voters in Martin County can pick a Booger in the primary election Tuesday.
That would be Jason “Booger” Jude, a Republican running for jailer.
Jude is among dozens of candidates across Kentucky who included nicknames on their ballot listings in order to stand out for voters.
It’s been a tradition among candidates in rural areas, where politics is often more personal and some people wouldn’t know a candidate by anything except a nickname.
“Half the people don’t even know my first name,” said Jackson County Clerk Donald “Duck” Moore, a Republican running for re-election.
There are fairly common nicknames on ballots around the state, including Doc, Bud, Butch, Slim, Red, Curly, Dude, and Jimbo, though James “JimBo” Combs, a Democrat running for judge-executive in Breathitt County, put a twist on his.
Others are a bit more unusual.
Consider Tommy Joe “Tobo” Bryant, who is running for mayor of Irvine.
When he was young, his older brother called him ToJo, short for Tommy Joe.
But their father, a World War II veteran, wasn’t about to have his son called by the name of a Japanese commander from the war, so he switched it to ToBo.
When Bryant filed for his first city council race in 1989, county Clerk Dora “Honey” Henry told him he needed to include his nickname on the ballot because people wouldn’t recognize him otherwise.
Even now, “if I just put Tommy Joe on there, they wouldn’t know who I am,” Bryant said of voters.
David “Pear Head” Webb, a Democrat running for jailer in Carlisle County, added his nickname because there are other David Webbs in the county who are likely more affluent, and Webb didn’t want voters to confuse him with someone else and think he didn’t need the job, said county Clerk Michael E. Toon.
One of the candidates for city council in Mayfield is Johnny “The Real” Jackson. It’s not a take-off on President Donald Trump’s Twitter handle, local officials said; rather, there is another Johnny Jackson running for council.
Animals are popular sources of nicknames, so on Tuesday, people in various counties will be able to vote for Jaybird, Fish, Seahorse, Bear, Junebug, Bulldog, Birddog, Blackbird, Frog and Tiger.
Knox County voters could end up having to choose between Tigger and Rabbit in November — William “Tigger” Logan is seeking the Democrat nomination for magistrate in the 3rd District, while Jerry “Rabbit” Cox is seeking the Republican nod in the same district.
And does Carl “Snake” McIntosh, a Democrat running for magistrate in Breathitt County, risk snide comments about politicians with his nickname?
The origin of nicknames is clear in some cases.
Teddy “Fruitman” Benge, a Republican candidate for magistrate in Laurel County, sells fruit and vegetables at the flea market and other spots.
Benge, the incumbent, didn’t use his nickname on the ballot in his earlier races, but with four opponents on Tuesday, he decided to include it to help voters recognize him.
“I just thought it was a little bit different — who knows?” Benge said. “They recognize me as the fruit man.”
In neighboring Clay County, one of the Republican candidates for magistrate is Ray “Chipman” Adams, who — you guessed it — worked many years for a potato chip company, said county Clerk Michael Baker.
Chipman isn’t the first candidate in Clay County to use a nickname from a job. Voters have seen The Tireman, The Welder and Meter Reader on ballots in the past.
Lee County could end up with a sheriff nicknamed Ducky, Rooster or Bug, and Johnson County could have multiple barbers on the three-member county commission.
In District 2, Republican Paul “Barber” Daniel is running against Mike “Mikey” Jarrell and Wm. R. “Robbie” Fraley II. Jarrell also is a barber, according to county Clerk Sallee Holbrook.
In District 3, Tim “Barber Tim” Salyer is one of four candidates for the Republican nomination.
This fall, the choice for jailer in Menifee County could be between Democrat Jason “Chunk” Stull and Republican Lora “Cookie” Hatton, if they survive their primaries.
The race for the Democrat nomination for jailer in Elliott County has its share of nicknames, with candidates Lowell “Trigger” Kegley II, Donald Daylan “Duck” Gilliam and Sean A. “Pinky” Green among the candidates.
And in Russell County, Jeremy “Hog” Wilson faces Terry “Butter” McQueary and Terry Waddell for the GOP nomination for District 1 magistrate.
Nicknames are so common in local races that the state even has a law on the subject, aimed at keeping candidates from including fake names for political gain.
The statute says a candidate’s nickname can only be placed on the ballot if it is the person’s “bona fide nickname, generally used by acquaintances of the candidate in the county of residence to refer to the candidate,” and is attested to by five residents.
In addition to Booger Jude, Martin County voters will see William R. “Bilbo” Davis and Homer “Pickle” Mills on the ballot.
Jude, one of three GOP candidates for jailer, said that when he was a child, his father called him a little booger, and it stuck.
There was a time he didn’t much like the name — he got teased in school — but he’s long since embraced it.
Jude said that when he ran for another county office several years ago, his slogan was “When you go to the polls, pick a Booger. Flick the rest ‘cause Booger’s the best.”
People wanted to buy his signs after the election, and John Boy and Billy, hosts of The Big Show syndicated radio program, had him on the air, Jude said.
Jude said he isn’t the only Jason Jude in the county, but the nickname most people know him by sets him apart.
“I’m the only Booger Jude around,” he said.