Metro Weekly

Gay Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announces bid for Congress

Bid for 6th Congressional District seat follows unsuccessful 2016 run against Sen. Rand Paul

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray – Photo: Facebook.

The openly gay two-term mayor of Lexington, Ky., has announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the state’s 6th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R).

Gray previously ran for Senate against Sen. Rand Paul (R) in 2016, but was unsuccessful in his bid. However, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Gray won a majority of votes in the counties that comprise the 6th District. The district leans nine point more Republican than the nation as a whole, but Democrats were able to hold onto the seat as recently as 2010.

Were he to be successful, Gray would become the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from the state. 

Gray faces two other candidates seeking to become “firsts”: former Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who would become the first woman elected to Congress from Kentucky as a Democrat, and State Sen. Reggie Thomas (D-Lexington), who would become the first African-American elected to Congress from the Bluegrass State.

Gray hopes to run on his experience in both the public and the private sector, incorporating lessons from his experience running his family’s company, Gray Construction, as well as from his time as mayor, to prove he can get things accomplished in a Congress often criticized for its inaction.

As an openly LGBTQ elected official, Gray was involved in efforts advocating for the passage of pro-LGBTQ ordinances in Lexington and in several other Kentucky towns or cities. In total, eight municipalities have adopted such ordinances. In June, Gray wrote a letter to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra asking him to exempt Lexington from a ban on state-funded travel to states, including Kentucky, with laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people.

“Our city realizes that inclusive and welcoming values translate into good business and economic prosperity,” Gray said in the letter.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at