LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Businessman Craig Greenberg won the Democratic primary for mayor of Kentucky's largest city, months after surviving a shooting attempt at his campaign office.
Greenberg beat out a crowded field of eight candidates for Louisville mayor and will be buoyed in November by the Democrats’ heavy numerical advantage over Republicans in the city. His opponent will be Bill Dieruf, mayor of the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown, who secured the Republican nomination.
Greenberg pledged to improve public safety and restore transparency and confidence in government in the aftermath of protests for racial justice that rocked Louisville and the nation earlier this decade.
“I’m just really excited about the future, about the general election campaign, and hopefully beyond,” Greenberg said after a victory speech at an election night watch party. “My number one priority is making Louisville safer. I want to bring the entire city together to address the big challenges we’re facing.”
Greenberg wore an orange ribbon on his lapel, a symbol commonly used to promote awareness for victims of gun violence.
Current Mayor Greg Fischer is ending his third four-year term.
The next mayor will have to steer Louisville through a spike in gun violence, the lingering pandemic and the prospect that Louisville could face a $70 million budget shortfall by 2024. Many residents still feel a deep sense of injustice from the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman shot in her apartment during a botched police raid.
In March, a jury acquitted the only police officer criminally charged in the Taylor raid, leaving many activists in the city with a sense that the city’s justice system had failed Taylor and her family. “We demand the truth, we demand transparency,” Bianca Austin, Taylor’s aunt, said at a memorial in March for her niece’s death.
Louisville’s police department remains under federal investigation, and many of the city’s residents want to see improvements in public safety.
Greenberg has said the attempt on his life in February of this year only strengthened his determination for the need to quell gun violence in the city. A local social justice activist was charged in connection with the shooting and remains in federal custody.
Tensions flared when Greenberg was shot at but the candidate escaped unharmed from the gunman at the doorway of a campaign office. One of the staffers managed to shut the door, which they barricaded using tables and desks, and the suspect fled. Greenberg was not hit, but said a bullet grazed his sweater.
The suspect in the shooting , Quintez Brown, 22, has been charged with “interfering with a federally protected right, and using and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence by shooting at and attempting to kill a candidate for elective office. He remains in federal custody.
If convicted of all federal charges, Brown faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison in addition to any sentence he receives on state charges of attempted murder and wanton endangerment. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Federal prosecutors have alleged that Brown, a former editorial columnist for the Courier Journal, wanted to kill Greenberg to prevent him from winning the mayoral race, citing Brown’s internet search history, text messages, and online posts around the time of the February shooting.
Greenberg helped start Louisville-based 21c Museum Hotels, building the company to more than 1,100 employees. The company is credited with helping revive Main Street in downtown Louisville and other urban neighborhoods across the country.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.