Lexington mayoral race goes negative

amead@herald-leader.comOctober 12, 2010 

As the Nov. 2 election draws closer, the candidates for mayor of Lexington have switched from feel-good television ads that tout their accomplishments to cutthroat attacks on each other.

A series of 15-second ads from the campaign of Vice Mayor Jim Gray, for example, tie Mayor Jim Newberry to spending scandals at the Blue Grass Airport and the Lexington Public Library, and attempt to blame him for the 37 percent rate increase that Kentucky American Water wants to pay for a new water treatment plant on the Kentucky River north of Frankfort.

Newberry supported the $164 million project, saying Lexington needed more water, but he has opposed the increase as excessive.

Another ad blames "Newberry's political contributors" for the more than $50,000 the city spent looking into fraud allegations before an investigation by state Auditor Crit Luallen found that no fraud had taken place.

Newberry's campaign, meanwhile, has hit back with a 30-second ad that shows a couple of unidentified people denouncing attack ads. "If you have to turn something around to make it negative, it's not true" one of them says.

Then the ad makes several negative charges, including that Gray's family business, Gray Construction, made millions on no-bid contracts and "shady insider stock deals," and that the company once employed illegal aliens.

One of the Gray ads is the subject of a Campaign Watchdog article in today's paper. The other ads by Newberry and Gray will be scrutinized in the newspaper later this week.

In other news, former Mayor Teresa Isaac, who tried to get her seat back this year but was eliminated in the primary, plans to make an announcement Tuesday morning alongside Gray.

Isaac has said on her campaign's Facebook page that the announcement will be at 10 a.m. at East Third and Race streets near downtown. She was earlier asking people on Facebook for their advice on whom to support in the general election.

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