My tribute to Gary Gray

(This aired last night on "Ralston Live." Sorry, no video available.)

Gary Gray wasn’t the kind of guy to brag about how many campaign he won. But in the last 30 years, he may have won more races than any other consultant in the state.

Gray died Thursday at the age of 69 in a car accident. But it was no accident that his talents were sought after by candidates at every level – from local officials to lawmakers to governors.

He was, quite simply, a man ahead of his time. In the mid-1980s, Gray mastered the art of targeting voters, mobilizing special interests and electing candidates, especially Democratic legislators. In the mid-1980s, he helped form the Assembly Democratic Caucus, the group that oversaw the party’s dominance in the Legislature’s lower house. Since 1987, the Democrats were never in the minority in the Assembly until this year. That is an amazing run, mostly thanks to Gray and his mastery of grass roots that also helped elect Bob Miller to the governorship twice.

He created the template that others copied and pilfered. Gray also mentored many young consultants, including Bradley Mayer, who has elected both Goodmans a total of five times. Mayer posted this to his Facebook page after Gray's death:

“They say you learn more from your defeats than your victories. And early in my career Gary Gray beat me all over the place. He was so good that you had to raise your game if you were going to beat him in a race.”

Many could not raise their game high enough. Ironically, one of the few – the very few – races Gray lost came at the hands of his protégé when Carolyn Goodman beat Gray's wife, Chris Giunchigliani.

A former assemblywoman and now Clark County commissioner, Giunchigliani occasionally lamented that her low-profile husband never got the credit that other, better-known consultants did. She was right about that.

That's because Gary Gray didn’t talk a lot, as many consultants do. But he did something better than almost all of them: Win.