Last month, Jim Gray was running advertisements criticizing Amy McGrath for seeking to represent in Congress "the one place she's never lived." On Friday, the Lexington mayor endorsed McGrath's bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.
In the five weeks since the former Marine combat pilot defeated Gray in the Democratic primary for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, Gray said he and McGrath have talked several times and met once.
At a news conference Friday in the newly-opened VisitLex office inside the old Fayette County Courthouse , Gray said he's giving an "enthusiastic" endorsement to McGrath in her race against Barr. State Sen. Reginald Thomas, a Lexington Democrat who finished third in the Democratic primary, already has endorsed McGrath.
Gray siad he is willing to help her any way he can.
"She represents all that is best in terms of character and a vigorous pursuit of a project like a campaign," Gray said. "Amy McGrath is the kind of person we need to send to Washington because she's got commitment, experience, judgment and character."
McGrath said she is "honored" to have Gray's support, calling him "an exceptional mayor." She said she especially will need his counsel and advice.
Maddie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, noted that Gray took McGrath to Lexington's visitors' center.
"The 'Visit Lex' sign behind @Amy McGrath is appropriate given she never lived in #KY06 and get more $$$$ from California than Kentucky," Anderson said in a tweet.
Republicans are expected to try to make an issue of how familiar McGrath is with the district.
A native of Edgewood in Northern Kentucky, McGrath said her military career kept her on the move but Kentucky always has been her home of record. She retired from the military June 1, 2017, and later moved to Georgetown.
Gray said he brought McGrath to the old courthouse because it was recently renovated. He said she is "extremely knowledgeable" about projects in the district.
Asked about Gray's endorsement of McGrath, Barr spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said "Andy has been endorsed by the people of the 6th Congressional District three times when they voted for him to represent them in Congress."
"He’s trusted because he gets results for his constituents — like tax cuts that put more money in the pockets of middle-class families and small businesses to help them grow and thrive," Whitaker said.
Barr joined Bath County Judge-Executive Bobby Rogers Friday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a boat ramp on Cave Run Lake, Whitaker said.
The race was recently rated a "toss up" by Cook Political Report.