Could Democrats Add Another Seat To The U.S. Senate?
Lexington, Kentucky Democratic Mayor Jim Gray is popular, has turned around the city's economy, and says he is ready for a new challenge: U.S. Senator for the state of Kentucky. The former CEO of his family's construction company ran for and became vice mayor in 2007, and then mayor in 2011. Now he will try to unseat Republican Senator Rand Paul.
"Our two-party system really depends on voices being represented, opposing voices ... That may sound simplistic but it's genuinely the way that I feel," Gray said in an interview with the Courier-Journal today.
"I believe that even in these times of brick throwing, caustic environment that voices of moderation are valuable and essential," he said. "Sen. Paul has far from represented voices of moderation and civility and reasonable discourse and reasonable debate."
"I think there are a lot of voices that deserve representation," Gray told the Courier-Journal, which describes him as "the highest profile Democrat to file" against Sen. Paul.
“I enjoy my job as mayor, and the only reason I would consider another office is I believe Washington is terribly broken and I could make a practical contribution by helping create jobs and economic opportunity for Kentuckians,” Gray told the Herald-Leader earlier this month.
“The fact that our present senator is never in Kentucky tells me that the race is up for grabs,” former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said at the time. “I think it’s a seat in play because it’s clear that our present senator is not terribly interested in being the senator from Kentucky.”
Indeed, Senator Paul, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been focused on trying to win the GOP nomination for president, despite performing poorly in the national polls. And Sen. Paul had to literally pay to have people vote for him. He managed to circumvent Kentucky law that states a candidate can only appear on the ballot for one office. Paul paid to have a special election so he could run for both president and re-election to the Senate this year.
Gray's popularity is not in question. After a 2002 whisper campaign, for his successful 2006 race for mayor, Gray annouced he is gay. In 2009 he told the Herald-Leader the fact his sexuality did not even come up during the race and the fact that he won "confirmed that the people of Lexington have confidence in me."
And the Courier-Journal reports today that "Gray said he doesn't believe that the fact that he is gay will hurt him, even in a state as conservative as Kentucky."
"What I found in Lexington is that people care about performance," Gray said. "They care about character and they care about competence. And that, at the end of the day, is what I think this election will be about."
Here's Gray's campaign video:
Image: Screenshot via YouTube