Turns out mother knew best.
On Saturday, Caldwell will be among four other eastern Kentucky Republicans inducted into the 5th Congressional District's 69th annual Republican Hall of Fame at the Corbin Civic Center in Corbin. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and is open to the public at $25 a head.
Caldwell's induction will put him among the rankings of only two other Harlan County Republican politicians: Eugene Goss, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996, and Rollin Helton, inducted posthumously in 1993.
"It's a pretty big honor," said Caldwell, who has served as magistrate of Harlan County's 1st District since 1993.
Caldwell has played a major role in politics locally and statewide. He's also branched out to the national level, serving as chairman of George H.W. Bush's presidential campaign in 1989. He has also assisted other big-name Republicans throughout their political endeavors, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher during his 2003 gubernatorial campaign and John Harper during his 1987 bid for governor.
Caldwell said his political achievements have earned him the title of "Mr. Republican" among many of his peers. He began his political service locally as youth chairman of Harlan County's Republican Party, helping to recruit members for the party. He also served two four-year terms as chairman of the organization before taking on the role of magistrate.
"I've been involved with the board all my life ... ever since I was old enough to vote," Caldwell said. Since that time, he said he's learned a number of lessons that have influenced his political goals and achievements. One was learning to work with the Democrats.
"I have a lot of Democrat friends," said Caldwell, adding that his desire to also be "fair across the board" has earned him respect as a Republican.
Longtime Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said Caldwell is indeed one of the most devout Republicans he has ever known.
"He is the face of the Republican Party in Harlan County, and is well known for being that throughout the state," Grieshop said.
Jenny Huddleston, a project coordinator at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset and field representative for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, said Republican leaders chosen for Hall of Fame induction must demonstrate a willingness to "go over and beyond the call of duty to promote the Republican Party and support its precepts."
"He's had a long, distinguished career with the Republican Party and he's well-deserving of this honor," Huddleston said.
State Rep. Brandon Smith, who represents a large section of Caldwell's district, said Caldwell's willingness to put "policy and project" before political affiliation has been instrumental in the successful representation of his people. Smith will be among a small group of Caldwell supporters attending Saturday's induction.
"Paul calls me more than any other magistrate I've had. If he gets something on his mind, he does not relent," Smith said. "He's really been a dominant political figure for the Republicans for a long time."
Still, Caldwell credits his mother, Ollie Mae Fultz Caldwell, for much of his political success. Those Republican values instilled in him at a young age gave him a political boost in his early life, he said.
"We'd always listen to election results on the radio, and make sure a Republican was winning," Caldwell said. He said his mother "would be proud."
"I can see people being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Country Music Hall of Fame, but, to me, this is just as important," Caldwell said.