The battle to replace Kathy Stein in the state Senate has expanded to television.
Two of the three candidates in the Dec. 10 special election — Democrat Reginald Thomas and independent Richard Moloney — have TV ads supporting their campaigns.
Moloney, a former Lexington council member and city official, claims in his 30-second ad that he is the "proven" candidate in the race. He started airing the ad Monday.
Thomas, an attorney and Kentucky State University professor, emphasizes in his 15-second ad that he is the "real Democrat" in the race. It started airing Wednesday.
The 13th Senate District is more than 2-to-1 Democratic in party registration. It covers much of Lexington inside New Circle Road, including downtown and the University of Kentucky, but it also extends south of Man o' War Boulevard near Richmond Road.
Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, called the special election in October after he appointed Stein, a Democrat, to a Fayette Circuit Court judgeship. The winner will serve the remainder of Stein's term, which runs through the end of 2016.
Republican Michael Johnson, a minister, also is in the race, but Johnson had raised only $6,233 in campaign funds as of Nov. 25, compared to Thomas' $122,401 and Moloney's $74,430.
The campaigns of Moloney and Thomas did not say how much money they plan to spend on TV ads.
The Moloney ad labels Thomas and Johnson as "unknown, unproven."
It says that Moloney was Lexington Mayor Jim Gray's first chief administrative officer, a member of the city council for seven terms and a resident of the district for 35 years.
"Richard Moloney knows our neighborhoods, understands our issues," the ad says. "He's prepared, ready to lead."
The ad asks voters to "shake up Frankfort" on Dec. 10 and make history by voting for Moloney.
Regardless of who wins the election, history will be made.
Lexington has never elected a black or an independent to the state Senate. Thomas and Johnson are black. Moloney, who is white, is an independent.
Both Moloney and Johnson were Democrats but changed their party registration to run in the special race. Local party leaders selected the party nominees.
The Thomas ad says he is "a real Democrat, endorsed by Gov. Beshear."
It says Thomas "will work for stronger schools, for better jobs and affordable heath care."