Gray Goes Negative In The Homestretch

May 21, 2018

The 6th District Democratic primary took a negative turn on Friday, just days before voters descend on the polls to choose from a crowded roster of would-be challengers for Republican incumbent Andy Barr.

6th District Congressional candidates Jim Gray and Amy McGrath.
Credit AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley/Adam Beam

In a TV advertisement, Lexington mayor Jim Gray's campaign questions whether fellow front-runner Amy McGrath has lived in the district long enough to take on representative duties in Congress. The ad begins and ends by recognizing and thanking the retired Marine combat pilot for her service, while asking viewers if the military veteran should have logged more hours in Kentucky before aspiring to higher office.

"We're all grateful for (her service), but now she's running for Congress to represent the one place she's never lived: here," the narrator says. "In fact, she moved here from Maryland just last year to run for Congress." 

The charge isn’t a new one. State Sen. Reggie Thomas tried out the same approach in an April debate, with McGrath taking offense at the remark. But this time veterans’ political action committee VoteVets is criticizing the ad, charging Gray with a “swiftboat”-style attack on his opponent.

"Hey @JimGrayCongress this is what losing looks like! Take down your attacks on @AmyMcGrathKY’s service to our country," the group tweeted.

McGrath also weighed in on Twitter, labeling the ad a “sneak attack” and a "very sad development.”

Responding to another Twitter poster characterizing the ad as an attack on McGrath’s military service, Gray said that’s “flat wrong” and urged the poster to watch the ad.

Gray and McGrath are considered favorites in the Tuesday race, which pits a Lexington mayor and onetime Senate candidate against a political newcomer with a hefty war chest and fast-growing name recognition.

State Sen. Reggie Thomas, Daniel Kemph, Theodore Green, and Geoff Young round out the ballot.