Jim Gray

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race continues its sleepy pace past Labor Day as Democratic candidate Jim Gray fights to be competitive and the incumbent lays low, enjoying a Republican surge in the state.

Gray and Republican incumbent Rand Paul have — mostly through their spokespeople — squared off on issues such as revitalizing the coal industry, gun control and finding solutions to the opioid epidemic. But interest in the race has paled in comparison to the 2014 barnburner between Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Steve Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, said that’s partly due to there being so many competitive Senate races across the country.

“Both the Democrats themselves and the affiliated interest groups who often throw money into a Senate race have a really wide board on which to play the game this election,” Voss said.

Ryland Barton

Democrat Jim Gray used Labor Day to unveil his jobs plan as he tries to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Media outlets report Gray released his economic agenda Monday at the United Auto Workers union hall in Louisville.

Gray says he wants to invest in infrastructure, broadband internet and education to bring more jobs and attract businesses to Kentucky. That includes repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges.

He says state residents are "living today on the infrastructure of our parents and our grandparents."

He also stressed the importance of small business and increasing access to small business loans.

Gray co-owns a construction company and has been Lexington's mayor since 2011. Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010.

Paul and Gray campaigns

A new political action committee is hoping to boost the chances of Kentucky Democrats winning the state’s U.S. Senate race this November.

Kentucky Moving Forward is a Super PAC that will raise money for a media campaign aimed at helping Lexington Mayor Jim Gray defeat Republican Rand Paul.

The Super PAC’s spokesman, Jared Smith, wouldn’t say how much money it has on hand or plans to raise. “I’m not really ready to get into budget requirements and how much we’re going to spend. I can just tell you we’re going to have a very healthy paid media campaign statewide across Kentucky that includes TV ads.”

Smith said the Kentucky Senate race is currently the group’s sole focus.

"Almost positive this is the only race that we will play in this year. Kentucky Moving Forward does expect to be around in other races to come down the line."

Ryland Barton

Lexington Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray says the Kentucky Farm Bureau should change its policies that oppose same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues.

“I think the Farm Bureau needs to adjust and adapt to the times, and that means adjusting their policies,” Gray said after wading through a crowd of pro-LGBTQ protesters outside the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual Ham Breakfast event in Louisville on Thursday morning.

A Democrat, Gray is openly gay and running against Republcian Sen. Rand Paul in his bid for reelection.

The Kentucky Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, has demonstrated outside of the annual event for years, opposing the Farm Bureau’s stances against same-sex marriage, domestic benefits for same-sex couples and abortion.

Paul (photo provided) Gray (Jim Gray for US Senate)

Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates will make their first appearance together at the rowdy Fancy Farm political picnic amid a turbulent national election year.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are both scheduled to face the raucous crowds in Fancy Farm, where thousands of people have gathered every year since 1880 at St. Jerome Parish to eat pork, play Bingo and watch to see how politicians deliver a speech while being peppered with boos and insults from at least half the crowd.

It will be Gray's first appearance in the shaded pavilion as the mayor of Kentucky's second largest city is making his first bid for statewide office. Paul, who is finishing up his first term in the U.S. Senate, is a Fancy Farm veteran.

Gray Calls For Roads, Technology To Help Coal Regions

Jul 27, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray says he would spend more money on technology and improve roads in eastern Kentucky to help the region recover from the devastating effects of a declining coal industry.

Gray revealed his plan on Tuesday along with other state Democratic leaders.

Gray said his plan would increase funding for the federal Office of Fossil Energy’s carbon capture storage technology research and would work to widen the Hal Rogers parkway to four lanes from Hazard to Somerset.

Republicans have criticized Gray and other Democrats as being anti-coal after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she would put coal miners and coal companies out of business.

Gray told reporters he still supports Clinton but said she he was wrong about coal. Clinton has since said she was mistaken in her remarks.

Gray, Paul to Campaign in Kentucky Coal Country on Tuesday

Jul 26, 2016
Paul (photo provided) Gray (Jim Gray for US Senate)

Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates are campaigning in eastern Kentucky as the race picks up steam heading into the annual Fancy Farm picnic.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray is scheduled to unveil his plan to help Kentucky's economically distressed coal communities on Tuesday. The Lexington mayor is scheduled to join other state lawmakers including House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones in Pikeville to discuss his plan.

Republicans have criticized Gray and other Democrats as being anti-coal after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said her policies would put coal miners and coal companies out of business. Clinton later said she was mistaken in her remarks.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will hold four town-hall style events on Tuesday in Corbin, Pineville, Harlan and Whitesburg.

Jim Gray Says He Raised $1.1 Million in Second Quarter

Jul 7, 2016
Office of Lexington Mayor

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray says he has raised nearly $1.1 million for his U.S. Senate campaign in the second quarter.

The Lexington mayor said in a news release his campaign raised $1,083,039 for the fundraising period ending June 30. The campaign did not say how much money it spent during that time. A spokeswoman for Gray declined to say how much money the campaign has available to spend.

Gray reported $1.8 million in his first fundraising report earlier this year, but $1 million of that was his own money. Gray said he did not contribute to his campaign in the second quarter.

Gray is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. Paul, who unsuccessfully ran for president, has not released his fundraising totals yet. The deadline to file fundraising reports is July 15.

Grant Short

An Owensboro man who hopes to replace Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator says lawmakers need to do more to strengthen working-class families. 

Grant Short is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Republican incumbent Rand Paul. 

In Bowling Green on Wednesday, Short talked about his Family Values Plan that calls for child care subsidies, federal sick days, and universal Pre-K, among other things.  Short added that he has a plan to pay for it all.

"I've high-balled this at $1.8 billion to implement over ten years," Short told WKU Public Radio.  "The way you pay for it is by subsidizing human beings the same way as subsidized global oil companies.  We subsidize them on a rate of a trillion dollars, so I think we can find one-tenth of that to subsidize the American family who is struggling."

Office of Lexington Mayor

Lexington Mayor and Democrat Jim Gray is running for U.S. Senate.

Gray, 62, told the Herald-Leader that he decided last week that he would challenge incumbent Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green.

Gray is a Barren County native and chairman of Gray Construction. He's in his second term as mayor of Kentucky's second-largest city.

Gray posted a video on YouTube announcing his Senate bid.

Gray isn't the only Democrat who has filed to run against Paul.

Phelps manufacturing worker Jeff Kender, retired navy officer Tom Recktenwald of Louisville and Owensboro business owner Grant Short are also seeking the Senate seat.

Paul also has two Republican challengers for the May primary election — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Stephen Slaughter, an engineer from Louisville.

Lexington Mayor Suspends Rupp Renovation

Jun 18, 2014

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has suspended efforts to renovate the home of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team.

The proposed $351 million project to renovate Rupp Arena and build a new convention center in downtown Lexington has languished for some time.

Gray said Wednesday he suspended work on the project after UK withdrew its support for a proposed annual $10.7 million lease on Rupp, beginning in 2018. Gray said officials had designed the proposed renovation based on what the university said it needed.

Gov. Steve Beshear said he still thinks the original project is what Lexington and the university need. The governor said he hopes UK will eventually be ready to move forward with the project.
 
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university did not have any immediate comment.

The mayors of Lexington and Louisville believe Kentucky needs a local option sales tax to stay competitive. The tax is levied temporarily to finance public infrastructure projects, but an opinion issued this week by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says voters would first need to approve a constitutional amendment. 

According to the opinion, local governments nor the General Assembly may enact a local option sales tax without changing the state constitution. The Courier-Journal reports the opinion was requested by the Louisville Metro Council. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray want counties to be able to locally increase the statewide sales tax and use the additional revenue for public projects.  Voters would have to approve the tax and the projects it would fund in a local referendum.

In an opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Jack Conway, the first step would be amending the state constitution.

Kentucky Mayors to Speak about Crippling Pension Costs

Jan 7, 2013

The mayors of Kentucky's two largest cities and other community leaders will call for legislative action to address rising pension costs and how they are impacting communities.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are planning to speak about the pension problems Monday morning at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.

The morning news conference will also preview a national report from the Pew Center on the States that addresses the impact of pension costs on cities, including Louisville.

Other officials scheduled to attend the event are Kentucky League of Cities director Jonathan Steiner and Kentucky Association of Counties president Tommy Turner.