In the increasingly down and dirty campaign for the keys to the mayor's office, Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray has a narrow lead according to a new Kentucky Poll.
The poll found 44 percent of likely voters plan to vote for the vice mayor over current Mayor Jim Newberry, who was the choice of 40 percent of those polled. Sixteen percent remain undecided.
“Obviously both candidates have every incentive to work hard over the next ten days or so to galvanize their known supporters and to sway those who still remain undecided,” says WKYT political editor Bill Bryant.
Commissioned by WKYT and The Lexington Herald-Leader, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., interviewed 500 registered Fayette County voters on Monday and Tuesday about what has turned into the most expensive Lexington mayor’s race ever.
Vice Mayor Gray scored best among women and Independents. While Gray's slightly ahead among all voters, he and Newberry are essentially neck-and-in-neck among men, Democrats and Republicans.
The Kentucky Poll also asked those interviewed to give a report card on how the mayor and vice mayor are going in their current jobs. Forty-seven percent said they approve of how Newberry has handled his job as mayor over the past four years. Thirty-four percent disapproved and 19 percent weren't sure.
Vice Mayor Jim Gray scored a 48 percent approval rating, 24 percent disapproved of the job he's done as vice mayor, and 28 percent said they weren't sure on how to rate Gray.
The two men who want to become Lexington's next mayor matched wits again Wednesday night in another debate.
Current mayor Jim Newberry and Vice Mayor Jim Gray met again on UK's campus and discussed a lot of issues including negative campaign ads.
With less than two weeks to go, the Lexington mayoral race has become increasingly heated. While both candidates seem to regret the negativity, they also seem to accept it as unavoidable.
"It is not my preference, but when you're attacked repeatedly as I have been in this race, you have to stand up and defend yourself," Mayor Newberry said during a debate Wednesday sponsored by the Lexington League of Women Voters and the UK Scripps Howard First Amendment Center.
"People say, well we don't like the negative," Vice Mayor Gray said. "The truth is that a lot of issues get elevated in this process."
During a debate Wednesday and throughout the campaign, Gray and Newberry have drawn clear distinctions between themselves citing familiar disagreements over the CentrePointe development and the city's dealings with Kentucky American Water and its proposal to increase water rates.
"He has been there for almost four years as Vice Mayor. What has he done to implement those things that he has been talking about tonight?" Newberry said to attendees at Wednesday’s debate.
"He speaks about others responsibilities, and that itself is irresponsible," Gray said.
The Kentucky Poll was conducted on behalf of WKYT and The Lexington Herald-Leader by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C. from October 18-19. A total of 500 registered Fayette County voters were interviewed by telephone. All said they were likely to vote in the November general election. Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the county.
The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the "true" figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or regional grouping.