Jonathan Shell had been sitting in the Capitol parking lot with his wife, Brooke, for 45 minutes.
They had talked. They had called their pastor. They had prayed.
The couple had just spent their day at a seminar on campaign management sponsored by the Farm Bureau in Louisville. On the advice of local politicians, Shell, then 24, had filed to run for a city council position in Lancaster.
But Brooke thought he should aspire to more.
He had gathered signatures to run for State Representative in the 36th District, his check was written and the papers necessary to declare his intent to run were complete.
All he had to do was get out of the car, walk into the Secretary of State’s office and file to run. Instead, he put his keys in the ignition, started the car and began to drive away.
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Shell’s political ambitions began inside the VIP Express gas station in Garrard County.
“There’s actually places in there where you can sit down and eat lunch,” he explained.
Shell likes a bologna sandwich with hot sauce. Occasionally, he’ll grab a bag of Lays potato chips, pour hot sauce inside and shake it around. While eating, he and other regulars at the VIP Express would watch TV news and start talking about it.
“You know, I’d just be beating my fist at the table, woe is me about government, just complaining,” Shell said. “And I decided to do something about it.”
Now, years later, Shell is finally in a position to do something about it. Shortly after Republicans gained control of the Kentucky House of Representatives in November, Shell was named House Majority Floor Leader on the day before his 29th birthday. That means he has a big say in which bills get a vote on the House floor, despite being the youngest member of the GOP caucus.