Monday, January 9, 2012


For days my non-media friends have asked me,"why are you paying so much attention to a man who never won an election?"

To us, Gatewood Galbraith, who died suddenly last week, was "good copy." If you asked him for a comment, you got it; short, to the point, and almost always colorful. Not like his fellow lawyers, and certainly not like most of his fellow candidates. That endeared him to reporters, as was his willingness to expound on almost any issue. In my newsroom, he was known, with considerable affection, as Gatemouth.

Unfortunately he was too often linked to his early pro-hemp stand, though his views changed over the years. (Let me add there is a growing movement, even in Kentucky, to support an industrial form of hemp, as a legitimate business.) As a libertarian (whatever that is) he could, and often was, all over the map on issues; conservative on some, liberal on others, and just Gatewood on many more.

Beyond Gatewood, the 7 time candidate for governor and Congress and other offices, was a very able lawyer, and a charming, friendly, gregarious man. He was polite to the point of being courtly, almost always smiling, even as he delivered zingers to his opponents. He laughed a lot, smiled a lot, and always greeted you as if he had known you for years.

He gave money he didn't have to homeless people in downtown Lexington--and a pat on the back to encourage them to get off the streets and back into life. He brought doughnuts to firemen and inspiration to many. You didn't have to agree with him (I didn't very often) to know that here was a man who cared about life, about issues, about improving his state and nation.

Paraphrasing one story I saw, over all those years, Kentuckians couldn't give Gatewood their votes, so they gave him their love.

Hail and Farewell, Gatemouth! We shall not see your like upon this Kentucky stage again.

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