Judge Robert “Bob” Conley is asking Carter County voters for their support Tuesday in his campaign to become Kentucky Supreme Court Justice for the 7th District.
Born and raised in he city of Russell, Conley is a member of the Russell High School Class of 1976. His dad was a railroad worker. He studied political science and history at the University of Kentucky before switching his degree to business and economics. Conley worked at Armco Steel to pay his own way through college.
“Had it not been for Armco Steel I would not have a college education,” he said, recalling five consecutive summers on the job there and later adding his candidacy is supported by the local United Steel Workers.
“I did every dirty job you can imagine … grease pits and under rollers. I was under every roller. Using a shovel, a jackhammer or a broom. They got their money’s worth out of me for sure. I worked hard because I wanted to get hired back the next summer!”
Conley shook his head and recalled “it got tougher” when his steel mill job came to an end and he went to work at jobs including Kennedy Book Store, “painting horse fences” and even working as a Little League umpire to pick up a few extra dollars.
He also worked his way through Salmon P. Chase Law School at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated in 1984 before passing his Bar exam on the first attempt.
He worked for an Ashland law firm for about four years before accepting a position with Addington Mining Resources.
Conley first became a judge when a local circuit judge retired and he was appointed to the bench by former Governor Brereton Jones, and he was later elected to the seat.
Conley said there are stark contrasts between himself and his opponent, Chris Harris.
“Most importantly I am the only candidate with judicial experience. I’ve been a trial judge for 25 years in District 12, and circuit court for 14 years as of next month,” Conley said.
As a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, Conley said his priority would be “to protect our constitution. My opponent has demonstrated his lack of interest in doing that, based on his voting record as a Representative.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court’s 7th District is made up of 22 counties – making it difficult to conduct a campaign, Conley said.
“They stretch from the bottom of the state to the top. You can’t just hop in a car and drive through … there’s a lot of two-lane roads over mountains,” he said with a smile. “And, in a pandemic it’s even crazier.”
Conley said people he’s talked to have their own clear priorities.
“Regardless of politics, they believe in God, God and guns, and God and law and order – and they want somebody that’s going to protect their values. I am the person to do that.”
“My opponent’s voting record shows the opposite. I am supported by the NRA and he’s not. He got an F due to his opposition to assault rifles. Guns – check one for me.”
“And, he’s saying he’s ‘Right To Life”. He’s not. I have the Right To Life endorsement … He did not vote to protect the unborn. Check two for me.”
“And, law and order. The sheriffs in my two counties and all law enforcement officers know I support them. I try to be fair. I try to be fair to everybody and they know that. The Kentucky State Police captains support me. He (Harris) voted against the Blue Lives Matter bill. Check three.”
“Plus, I have the judicial experience he does not have. He does not have any idea of what it’s like to be a judge.”
Conley said he is also aware of a “hush campaign” by his opponent aimed at turning educators against him.
“My late wife was a public school teacher. She taught 32 years … science. She lived and breathed her school. There’s no way I’d be against teachers. Teachers run in my family,” he said citing his brother and sister-in-law amongst his family’s education professionals.
Conley and his wife were married for 28 years and they have an adult son and daughter. When he isn’t working, Conley said he likes to “hike and bike” at the Lake Vesuvius Loop Trail, paddle his kayak and ride his motorcycle, a Yamaha Roadstar.
For more information about his campaign, visit