Mayor-elect Gray put $900,000 into mayoral race

Winning mayoral bid cost $1.8 million; Newberry spent about $1.2 million

amead@herald-leader.comDecember 9, 2010 

Gray

Mayor-elect Jim Gray, left, introduced Richard Maloney, right, as the city's new chief administrative officer officer during an afternoon news conference on East Vine St. in Lexington, Ky., Monday, November, 08, 2010. Moloney is a former Lexington Urban County Council member. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

CHARLES BERTRAM

Jim Gray put nearly $900,000 of his own money into his successful race to be mayor of Lexington, campaign finance reports show.

With contributions from individuals and political action committees, that gave Gray nearly $1.8 million to spend in the primary and general election campaigns — far more than anyone has spent in a local race.

The job pays $120,000 a year.

Gray, 57, is a millionaire construction-company executive who has been the city's vice mayor for the past four years. He will be on a leave of absence from Gray Construction, his family's business, while he serves as mayor. The company doesn't do business with the city, and Gray says it won't while he is mayor.

Gray defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Newberry, 54, in the Nov. 2 election.

Both candidates were required to file reports Tuesday covering the period from 15 days before the election to 30 days after.

Newberry's report shows he raised about $1.2 million in the primary and general election campaigns.

The new reports show that Newberry raised $100,000 in the closing days of the campaign. In that same period, Gray raised $63,000 from others and put several hundred thousand dollars of his own money into the effort.

Newberry campaign officials had said before the election Gray was using his own money to overwhelm their advertising efforts.

Newberry campaign manager Lance Blanford, asked Wednesday to comment on Gray's finance report, said "My stance has not changed, Jim Gray used his personal fortune to run a misleading, win-at-any-cost campaign and, unfortunately, it proved to be successful."

Shortly after the election, Gray said he had not decided whether to raise money to repay the loans to himself.

Asked the question again Wednesday, he said, "I'm focused on the transition now and that's it, not the campaign or fund-raising. What I decide on financing will be fully transparent and not affect my decisions as mayor."

Gray had lent his campaign $100,000 in the primary and $380,000 more earlier in the general election campaign.

On Oct. 19 — two weeks before voters went to the polls — he lent an additional $200,000. Two days later, he put in $184,000 more. Then, two weeks after the election, came a last loan of $15,000.

Nearly everything was spent. The report shows that the Gray campaign has a debt of $779,000, all of it in loans owed to the candidate. An earlier report showed that Gray absorbed the $100,000 loan from the primary.

Newberry's report showed $2,000 on hand, and no debt.

The race already was the most expensive local race in Lexington history before the latest reports.

By comparison, Louisville Mayor-elect Greg Fischer spent more than $2.4 million to defeat Hal Heiner, who spent $2.7 million.

Louisville is a much larger city — it has a population of 700,000, compared with Lexington's 296,000 — with a larger television market that makes mass advertising more expensive. In households reached, Louisville is the 50th largest television market in the country. Lexington is No. 63.

Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319.

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