As Kentucky voters ushered in a major senate victory for the Tea Party on Tuesday night, the state’s second-largest city also elected its first openly gay mayor.
In a heated race, Lexington vice mayor Jim Gray declared victory over incumbent mayor Jim Newberry with a 6-point margin, first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Although Gray’s sexual orientation was reportedly a hot-button issue on local talk radio shows in recent days, the mayor-elect told The Advocate that boilerplate economic concerns were the overriding focus in the election.
“This campaign was about pocketbook issues. Sexual orientation was not on the radar,” said Gray, CEO of a family construction company headquartered in Lexington for 28 years.
Of his mayoral election, Gray added that he hoped his election “will
illustrate that this is a city that is welcoming to everyone.”
In the Kentucky senate race, Rand Paul declared victory early in the evening over Democratic challenger Jack Conway. Paul has previously asserted that “don’t ask, don’t tell” has “worked relatively well” and suggested that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was overly broad and should not apply to private businesses.
Gray declined to comment on Paul’s stance on LGBT issues, saying that, “As the mayor of Lexington, I will work closely with the senator to do what’s best for the state.”
Gray received support from the Victory Fund, whose president and CEO, Chuck Wolfe, called the election “a tremendous victory for Lexington, for Kentucky’s LGBT community, and for fairness.”