A retired school teacher and administrator from Litchfield may be the fourth person to enter the increasingly crowded field of candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District.
James A. Gray, 62, said Thursday that he had notified Democratic Party officials in the newly drawn district that he will be a candidate. David Gill, a thrice-unsuccessful contender for Congress from Bloomington, is already in the race, and two other men — Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten and former state Rep. Jay Hoffman of Collinsville — are considering running.
Two Republicans — U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana and Springfield truck driver Sam Spradlin — say they're candidates. A March 20, 2012, primary election will determine each party's candidate.
Gray, who said he has been in education for 32 years including a stint as superintendent of schools in the south Chicago suburb of Burbank, has run for office once before. Around 1980, he said, he was an unsuccessful contender for regional superintendent of schools in Montgomery and Christian counties.
A native of Butler in Montgomery County, Gray said he would not be a career politician and would serve no more than four terms in Congress.
"I've been a progressive Democrat all my life and have argued with all my Republican friends," Gray laughed. "They're always telling me, 'If you feel so strong then why don't you run?' And the statistics are out there about the massive shift in wealth and the wealth concentration, the tax favoritism for the Fortune 500 companies, the busting of the unions, just one thing after another. All that stuff that went on in Wisconsin was enough to make me throw up.
"But the icing on the cake was my 85-year-old mother, when we got into the debt extension thing, she was sitting there at the kitchen table almost in tears, wondering whether her check was going to come the next month. She had worked all her life as a waitress, raised six children, four of her own and two of my cousins, and she was worried about her check. Over what?"
Gray said he favors Second Amendment rights, bringing U.S. troops home and a "progressive tax structure where the super rich and the Fortune 500 companies pay taxes at a true effective tax rate."