Gray could be first Lexington mayor in 30 years to run unopposed

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJanuary 11, 2014 

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray spoke during an afternoon news conference concerning the plans for Rupp Arena held in the Lexington Center in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, July 10, 2013. It was announced that architects NBBJ and the Hunt Construction Group have been selected to "reinvent" Rupp Arena. Among the speakers were former UK basketball coach Joe B. Hall, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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A little more than two weeks before the Jan. 28 filing deadline, Mayor Jim Gray still has no opponent.

If no challenger emerges before the May primary, Gray will become the first mayor to run unopposed for the city's top job in nearly 30 years.

The last time an incumbent mayor ran unopposed was Scotty Baesler in 1985.

Gray's campaign said Friday that Gray's accomplishments in his first term and sizable fundraising lead have kept potential candidates out of the race.

"Frankly, the window for a credible challenge has closed," said Rob Dible, Gray's campaign manager.

"We recently commissioned a survey that showed no potential opponent drawing more than 18 percent of the vote in a general election matchup."

But potential candidates haven't ruled out a run against Gray.

Anthany Beatty, an assistant vice president at the University of Kentucky and a former police chief, said he is still weighing a run. He is meeting with several groups in coming weeks, he said. He will make a final decision shortly before the filing deadline.

"This is not an easy decision," Beatty said. "I'm being very cautious. I want to have all of the facts."

Mike Scanlon, a Lexington businessman and a former vice mayor, said Friday that he, too, is considering a run. "The jury is still out," Scanlon said. "Lexington needs a vigorous debate for mayor. No one should run unopposed. It is Lexington's best job. I will watch and wait and see what develops."

Scanlon said that Gray's campaign assertion that it's too late for a credible candidate to enter the race is off the mark.

"That's the reason why someone needs to run," Scanlon said. "You can't let statements like that go unchallenged."

Gray's campaign coffers are already flush.

He has raised more than $285,000 for his re-election campaign, according to a recent campaign finance report. The former CEO of Gray Construction has $179,220 cash on hand, according to a Dec. 31 campaign finance report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Gray has not officially filed to run with the Fayette County Clerk but will soon, Dible said.

Meanwhile, only five people have filed to run for the 12 Urban County Council district seats and three at-large council positions, according to county clerk records. The top vote getter in the at-large race becomes the vice mayor.

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton announced in November that after serving nearly 16 years on council she will not run for re-election in 2014. Incumbent at-large member Chuck Ellinger Jr. is term-limited and can not seek another term.

According to county clerk records, only two people have filed to run for council at-large, a four-year position: Richard Moloney, a former Urban County Council member, and Shannon Buzard, a homemaker and first-time candidate.

Incumbent at-large council member Steve Kay said Friday that he will run for re-election and plans to file soon. Kevin Stinnett, who currently represents the Sixth District, has also announced that he will run for an at-large seat.

Two Urban County Council district incumbents, Chris Ford and Bill Farmer Jr., have filed for re-election. Ford represents the First District; Farmer represents the Fifth District. Michael Stuart, a small business owner and first-time candidate, has filed to run in the Second District.

The Urban County Council, however, has been on a break since mid-December and returns Tuesday. It's likely that more incumbents will file to run next week.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall. This is an endnote here an dhdjbfv jhbdvf djfbvjd vhbdfjv jdbvf jdfjbvh jvfjkdbf

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