Around the South for Feb. 1: KY, VA & FL

Kentucky: Gray files to challenge Paul. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has filed as a Democrat to run against US Sen. Rand Paul (R) this year. Gray, who previously ran his family’s very successful construction business, is the most prominent of the seven Democrats who have filed for the seat, says the Courier-Journal. (For more information, see SPR’s “Kentucky: Democrats ponder challenge to Paul,” Dec 22, 2015.) …….Virginia: GOP reverses course on loyalty pledge. The Republican State Central Committee in Virginia on Saturday voted unanimously to rescind a requirement that voters in its March 1 primary sign a statement that they are Republicans, reports the Washington Post. Donald Trump had denounced the pledge as a “suicidal mistake.”Virginia is one of 14 states with a primary open to all voters, who do not declare a party allegiance when registering to vote ……. Florida: Crist behind in money chase. Former governor (R) Charlie Crist, who has lost bids for the US Senate and for governor, as a Democrat, was thought to be the early favorite in the 13th District (St. Petersburg) congressional race. But the financial reports for the last quarter, reports Sunshine State News, are in, and his primary foe, Eric Lynn, a former Obama Administration official, has outraised Crist $652,000 to some $500,000. Not definitive, but significant …….