Lexington mayor

Newberry and Gray win Lexington mayoral primary

then there were Two: Newberry, gray to vie in fall

amead@herald-leader.comMay 19, 2010 

The race for mayor of Lexington has been narrowed to the Jims.

Jim Newberry, who now holds the office, and Jim Gray, who sits next to him in the vice mayor's chair, emerged from Tuesday's primary election as the top two vote-getters and will face off in the fall.

Newberry won the most votes in the four-person race but fell well short of a majority.

He captured 43.7 percent of the vote compared with Gray's 35.7 percent.

Former Mayor Teresa Isaac, who waged a vigorous but relatively low-funded comeback attempt, failed to overcome the negative vibes that turned her out of office four years ago. Businessman Skip Horine finished fourth.

Newberry carried 205 of the city's 287 precincts, winning virtually all of Lexington's suburban neighborhoods. Gray won 55 precincts, mostly in downtown and just south of downtown. Isaac won 20 precincts, primarily north of downtown. Horine did not win any precincts. There were five Gray-Newberry ties. Two precincts had no voters.

In a speech to supporters at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa on Newtown Pike, Newberry began by thanking Isaac and Horine for taking part in the campaign.

"To Jim Gray, I'll say 'I'll see you at the polls in November,' " Newberry said.

After going over some of his accomplishments in office, Newberry returned to Gray. He said the vice mayor has "a sense of entitlement" and has done little for the city, yet has the audacity to "ask for a promotion."

"The difference between Jim Gray and Jim Newberry is that I show up, I do the work, I get people together from all parts of the city," he said. "Let's get to work."

The crowd began chanting, "Four more years, four more years."

Gray drew cheers from his supporters at Gumbo Ya Ya on East Main Street when he said his fall campaign, like the primary campaign, will be about "giving our city a fresh start."

"All you have to do is count the numbers tonight to see there are a whole lot of folks out there who, come November, are going to want a fresh start," Gray said.

He also made a veiled reference to the stalled CentrePointe project, which he blames on Newberry.

"This is a city where authenticity matters, where uniqueness matters, where what we build, when we build, we should build it knowing that we're not tearing something down that's really valuable and important," Gray said.

Disagreements between Gray, 56, and Newberry, 53, dominated a primary campaign that stretched over a dozen candidate forums in as many weeks.

Going into the fall, look for Gray to continue his assertions that Newberry made mistakes by supporting CentrePointe and that he was too slow to support an audit of spending problems at Blue Grass Airport.

Newberry probably will continue to push the notion that he has led the city well during difficult economic times and that Gray has been a do-nothing vice mayor who has sponsored no legislation.

It is less clear how they will try to lure Isaac voters.

Newberry criticized Isaac some during the campaign; Gray didn't mention her on the campaign trail, but he went out of his way to praise her after the votes were counted Tuesday.

"That lady is a great campaigner," he said. "There is nobody in his heart who cares more about this city than Teresa Isaac does."

When Gray lost a 2002 mayoral primary to Isaac and then-Urban County Councilman Scott Crosbie, he endorsed Isaac, the ultimate victor.

After Isaac conceded the race Tuesday night — telling supporters she was "thankful for all of our smaller but important victories" — she skirted the question on whether she would return the endorsement favor.

"I congratulate both Jims on their success but, as of now, I have not met with them, and therefore I am not endorsing either one of them," she said.

Newberry and Gray have waged a $1 million campaign for a job that pays $120,574.22 a year.

In his latest finance report, Newberry reported that he had raised $548,000 and spent $399,000.

Gray reported raising $459,000 (including $100,000 he loaned to his campaign) and spending $350,000.

Newberry and Gray came into office in late 2006 promising a kind of cooperation that had been missing in the contentious relationship between Isaac and Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon.

The Jims grew up just a few miles and a few years apart in Barren County. Newberry graduated from Hiseville High School in 1974 and was president of his class all four years. Gray graduated from Glasgow High School in 1971 and was president of his senior class.

As mayor and vice mayor, it wasn't long before cooperation gave way to disagreements that have intensified during the campaign of the last several months.

Their sharpest divergence is over CentrePointe, a development proposed by The Webb Cos. that has left an empty, grass-covered block in the middle of downtown Lexington.

Gray says that better planning and stronger leadership by the mayor could have stopped the destruction of the buildings and businesses that were on the block.

Newberry counters that it is wrong for an official to oppose an otherwise lawful project "simply because they don't like how it looks or who's doing it."

Lexington mayor

Top two advance to general election

Candidate Votes Pct.

Jim Newberry 21,648 43.7

Jim Gray 17,703 35.7

Teresa Isaac 8,216 16.6

Skip Horine 1,997 4.0

100 percent reporting

Precinct by precinct results, Page A5

Herald-Leader staff writers Mary Meehan, Colin Walsh and Jim Warren contributed to this article. Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319.

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