January 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Gay mayor to challenge Rand Paul for U.S. Senate seat

Jim Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray (Photo public domain)

The openly gay mayor of Lexington, Ky., announced on Tuesday he intends to challenge U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this year for his U.S. Senate seat.

In an online video, Jim Gray declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky currently held by Paul.

“As your senator, I won’t just talk, I’ll listen,” Gray said. “I’ll offer common-sense solutions, and I’ll work to restore the American Dream for every family in Kentucky.”

Gray, 62, has served as Lexington mayor since 2011. Prior to that, he was the city vice mayor and CEO of Gray Construction, an engineering, design and construction company headquartered in Lexington.

Doug Stafford, senior adviser for Paul’s Senate re-election campaign, touted the Republican’s conservative credentials and work on behalf of Kentucky in response to Gray’s announcement.

“As Sen. Rand Paul prepares for re-election, he hopes voters will remember his tireless work to balance the budget, his fight against President Obama’s War on Coal, his fight against Obamacare, and that Sen. Paul has returned to the taxpayer over $2 million from his office budget,” Stafford said.

As the Huffington Post reports, Gray is likely to face an uphill challenge in defeating Paul. In 2014, Kentucky re-elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) despite a formable challenge from Democratic candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, Gray is quoted as saying he has “no illusions” about the challenge he faces.

“I know what it’s like to challenge conventional thinking and conventional patterns,” Gray reportedly said. “What I believe people want is performance and results. That’s what they are about. That’s what counts.”

Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky LGBT group known as the Fairness Campaign, said Gray has a real shot at defeating Paul in November.

“Mayor Gray is a very viable candidate in this race,” Hartman said. “He has provided strong and prudent leadership for Lexington, our state’s second largest metropolitan area, and has proven himself a successful businessman and campaigner. We look forward to hearing Mayor Gray’s plans for Kentucky through his candidacy.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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