U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray flew around the state Monday in the final hours of the Senate campaign, rallying voters and whipping up support.
Paul, a Republican, arrived at the Lexington Aviation Museum in a small propeller plane with his wife Kelley around 9 a.m. as Gray traveled from Pikeville to Louisville.
“Are you with me?” Paul asked, as a crowd of more than 50 applauded. “Are we gonna win big?”
Paul has maintained a lead over Gray in every publicly released poll this fall.
He and the elected officials selected to speak for him focused Monday on the ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats.
“There’s a clear contrast in vision between them and us,” Paul said without mentioning Gray in his speech. “We want small constitutional government that defends the country.”
He also drew contrasts on taxes and foreign aid.
“Everybody says they want the country to grow and get richer, but you know what, it’s about what kind of policies will allow the country to grow,” Paul said. “Higher taxes or lower taxes, more regulations or less regulations, more deficits, more debt, more government or less.”
While Paul painted a picture of contrasts, Gray’s campaign attempted to paint a picture of bipartisanship.
At the Fifth/Third Pavilion in downtown Lexington, around 11 hours before the polls were scheduled to open, Lexington Councilman Bill Farmer Jr. confessed that he was a Republican who was voting for Gray, the Democrat. Former Gov. Steve Beshear built on the theme and pledged Gray would cut through the partisanship in Washington.
“It’s time that people up there in Washington remembered that they’re Americans first and Republicans and Democrats second,” Beshear said.
Gray introduced himself as the “guy who is going to beat Rand Paul,” before shifting into his stump speech, harping a record of working with others while running his family business and as mayor. He echoed the call of Nancy Jo Kemper, the Democrat running in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, to eliminate dysfunction in Congress.
“We have a chance tomorrow to send a signal that we are tired of it and we’re doing something about it.” Gray said. “We’re going to bring change to Washington.”
While Gray knocked Paul, the senator refused to acknowledge his opponent. Instead, he focused on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the news that FBI Director James Comey said she should not face criminal charges for her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“When they came to vote for the FBI director, there’s one U.S. Senator who voted no on Comey, and you’re looking at him,” Paul said.
Comey sent a vague letter to Congress on Oct. 28 saying the FBI had found new evidence that might be pertinent to the investigation of Clinton’s emails, pumping life back into Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign in the last days of the election. It is likely Paul will benefit if Trump wins by a large margin in Kentucky.
At Gray’s rally, Kentucky state Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, said Paul was “missing in action” during his term. Allison Ball, the state treasurer, defended Paul against the common attack in the morning.
“[Paul] always represents Kentucky, Kentucky is always first,” Ball said. “You know he did a lot of things this year, but even in the midst of all that he was representing Kentucky … He is there representing us, we can always count on him.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, touted Paul’s conservative ideology.
“Sen. Paul and I may be the incumbents but we are for change. We are the reformers. We don’t settle for the status quo,” Barr said. “Some, including our opponents, think America is on the right track. Sen. Paul and I believe America is on the wrong track.”
But Gray repeated his claim from the Senate Debate on KET that Rand Paul was too focused on his ideology to get things done in congress.
“I reject the extreme, wild ass ideas and theories and philosophies of Rand Paul,” Gray said to cheers and laughs from the crowd. “Because those wild ass philosophies will never build the first bridge or road or factory or create the first job.”
▪ Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.
▪ Voters must produce identification or be known by a precinct officer before voting.
▪ To find out whether you are registered to vote and where you vote, go to the Voter Information Center at the state Board of Elections’ website, Elect.ky.gov.
▪ If you see problems, call the state attorney general’s election-fraud hot line, 1-800- 328-8683.