Rand Paul will have an out gay man as challenger in his Senate reelection campaign, with Lexington mayor Jim Gray announcing a bid for the seat.
Gray officially filed papers to run today, the last possible day to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, Paul is running simultaneous races for president and relection in Kentucky as senator. That was immediately a line of attack for Gray, who said Paul "puts himself and his own ambitions above Kentucky. My dad taught me that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason."
Gray is being described by Washington newspaper Roll Call as "a man viewed by most Kentucky Democrats as the party’s hope to take on Republican Sen. Rand Paul for re-election this fall." Still, he isn't the only Democrat vying for the spot versus Paul, with Democrats Jeff Kender, Ron Leach, Tom Recktenwald, and Grant T. Short already announced candidacies.
Gray, who has served two terms as mayor for Kentucky's most populous city, will face an array of tough odds to win, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. He's the first ever out candidate for statewide office, and if elected, Gray would become the nation's second out senator in history. Only Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has ever won election at that level. Plus, he'd have to win in a state that is home to Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, who gained notoriety by refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Gray is the former CEO of his family's successful construction company, which has some wondering if he's willing to tap his own fortune to fund the campaign. Fox News outlined the details of a financial obstacle to winning this way:
"Gray gives Democrats a savvy political veteran who has shown a willingness to use his own money to fuel his campaigns. He used more than $800,000 of his own money in 2010 to topple an incumbent mayor, and gave himself another $250,000 in his 2014 re-election campaign. A self-funded candidate could compensate for the campaign's late start and help keep pace with Paul, who has a modest $1.4 million available in his Senate campaign account."
Gray launched a campaign website today and released a video about his candidacy. In the video, Gray touted his record turning a deficit into a surplus in Lexington, and creating jobs there faster than the state average.
"I grew up in a home where chasing the American dream wasn't just a dream, it was a reality," he said, noting that dream is slipping away for many Americans and putting the blame on Washington.
"Instead of building things up, like my family taught me, Washington is busy tearing each other down," he says in the campaign video. "I want to change that."
Watch Gray's official campaign announcement in the video below: