Barr gets good news from CQ; Barr and Chandler hire managers

06/21/2010 10:59 AM

Andy Barr, Republican candidate for Congress

UPDATED 1:24 p.m.: In a sign that Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler could be facing his toughest re-election fight, the Washington-based CQ Politics publication changed its classification of the race from “likely Democratic” to “leans Democratic.”

In a June 19 article, John McArdle wrote that Chandler, of Versailles, and Virginia Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher “are being targeted by national Republicans and face credible challengers in their respective conservative-leaning, coal country districts.”

Andy Barr, a Lexington attorney, is challenging Chandler, the former state auditor and attorney general who has held the 6th district seat since February 2004.

Barr has spent the month since his May 18 primary win ramping up his campaign infrastructure to take on Chandler, who started May with about $1.69 million in his campaign coffers. Chandler didn’t have a Democratic primary opponent, while Barr handily won a six-way GOP primary.

UPDATED: Chandler’s campaign released a statement expressing confidence in re-election to a fourth full-term.

“Ben Chandler has been an independent voice for Central Kentucky and taken on the tough fights for the people in this district his whole career,” according to the statement. “We have a record amount of cash on hand, have assembled a strong campaign staff, and we are confident the people of Central Kentucky will send Ben back to continue his good work on their behalf.”

Chandler has hired Andy LaVigne as his campaign manager, said Jennifer Krimm, Chandler’s spokeswoman.

Barr hired John Connell, a political operative who most recently ran a congressional race in Kansas, as his campaign manager on Friday.

Connell ran the campaign of Nick Jordan, who was seeking the GOP nomination in Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District. But Jordan dropped out of that race in April, citing a desire to avoid a contentious intra-party fight in the district that covers Eastern Kansas.

Connell formerly served as a legislative assistant for freshman U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Bowling Green Republican, and in a similar role for Guthrie’s predecessor, Republican Rep. Ron Lewis, from August 2007 to March 2008, according to his resume. He also briefly served as a staff assistant for Northern Kentucky’s U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Hebron.

Barr’s staff currently consists of Connell and a finance director, Connell said. Austin McCubbin ran Barr’s campaign during the primary.

The 6th Congressional District includes 16 counties mostly in central Kentucky and covers the cities of Lexington, Richmond and Frankfort.

Chandler’s closest race was the February 2004 special election to win the seat and replace Republican Ernie Fletcher, who stepped down after defeating Chandler in the November 2003 governor’s race. Chandler defeated state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr by 12 points. He won re-election that November by nearly a 19 point margin over state Sen. Tom Buford.

In 2006, Chandler drew opposition from a Libertarian Party candidate, Paul Ard, and won 85.5 percent to 14.5 percent. And in 2008, Chandler defeated Republican Jon Larson 64.7 percent to 35.3 percent.

- Ryan Alessi


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