Chandler strikes back against Barr on coal ad

09/20/2012 11:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, wasted no time countering Republican Andy Barr’s latest TV spot, calling that commercial a “big lie.” Chandler’s ad also touts his own pro-coal message.

“This attack from Andy Barr. It’s a big lie. This guy isn’t a miner. He’s a wealthy corporate executive and wealthy Republican donor,” says the announcer in Chandler’s ad.

Barr’s ad features Heath Lovell, a coal company executive from Union County, who also has donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Barr began airing his campaign ad this week in the Lexington TV market. However, the ad quickly drew the attention of the United Mine Workers of America, whose political action committee has backed Chandler. The union criticized the ad for portraying Lovell as a miner when in fact his primary role is as an executive.

Barr issued a statement Thursday decrying the attack on Lovell.

“Ben Chandler’s persistent attacks on a third-generation Kentucky coal miner who rose to a position of responsibility through the sweat of his own brow show just how badly Washington has warped this career politician’s perspective,” Barr said

David Host, a spokesperson for Barr, said that Lovell, who speaks in the campaign ad, has been a miner since he was 18-years old. And even though he’s a coal executive now, Lovell still goes into a mine about once a week and uses the gear he’s seen wearing in the ad, Host said.

Host said that the coal industry will play a major role in this race because the redrawing of district lines this spring moved several eastern Kentucky counties into the 6th District.

Chandler’s ad said he took on Democrats to protect coal jobs. But in 2009, he voted with the Democratic majority for a cap and trade type approach. Under that proposal, emissions of greenhouse gasses from industries and utilities would be capped, but they could buy or trade credits in order to go beyond those caps. Chandler said that was preferable to having the EPA tighten regulations.

“My position has always been that that was a better option for the coal industry than the EPA coming in. And sure enough the EPA has come in and not brought anything with it to try to minimize the negative effects on the coal industry,” Chandler said in a previous interview with Pure Politics. “This is an EPA that has been heading in this direction for many, many years. In fact during the Bush administration it was headed in this direction.”

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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