Democrat Elisabeth Jensen to run in 6th Congressional District for chance to challenge Barr

06/17/2013 07:16 AM

Elisabeth Jensen, a Lexington Democrat and education advocate, confirmed to Pure Politics that she will run for Congress next year in Central Kentucky’s 6th District for the chance to challenge freshman Republican Congressman Andy Barr.

Jensen said in an interview over the weekend that she will hold her first fundraiser July 8, which will be hosted by horse owners Tracy and Carol Farmer.

As for the issues, Jensen said issues such as college affordability, equal pay for women, children issues and workforce development will make up the foundation of her campaign.

“Kentucky needs a voice for working families and women and children, and I don’t think we have that right now,” Jensen said. “It’s not about Andy Barr. I really care about young people in our state. I care about our families. I care about our working folks. And I think they need a voice.”

She took a month-long hiatus from her role as president of the Lexington-based Race for Education, a non-profit focused on academic development and tutoring.
Jensen said she’s preparing for an expensive and hard-fought race against Barr should she win the nomination. She said she fully expects to raise more than $1 million.

Barr was the top fundraiser among Kentucky’s six incumbent congressmen in the first quarter. He raised more than $365,000 and had nearly $315,000 on hand as of April 1. Barr spent more than $2.1 million in the 2012 Election when he defeated incumbent Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler.

Barr said he was expecting a Democrat to jump in the race soon. He said he’s “not focused on politics right now.”

“I’m focused on the values of the people of Central and Eastern Kentucky, and what they’ve told me to do was to focus on opportunity for people. That means education, of course, but it also means jobs,” he said before attending the Republican Party’s statewide Lincoln Day Dinner in Lexington on Saturday night.

The Associated Press first reported earlier this month that Jensen was thinking about running in the 6th District. She said she filed her candidacy paperwork with Federal Election Commission last week to begin running. As of Monday morning, that filing was not yet available online.

Jensen said she told Gov. Steve Beshear she wanted to run and the governor encouraged her if that’s what she wanted to do. And she said as she made her way through the district to talk with key Democrats she didn’t run across any other Democrats who said they were serious about running for the party’s nomination next year.

Jensen has been active in Kentucky Democratic politics, particularly in the last five years. She has volunteered for Democratic campaigns in Central Kentucky and graduated in 2011 from Emerge Kentucky, the program aimed at training Democratic women for political leadership posts.

She said one of the reasons she didn’t publicly announce that she filed candidacy paperwork with the FEC was that she has been focused on volunteering for Democratic state House candidate James Kay, who is running in the June 25 special election in the district that covers Woodford County, eastern Franklin County and western Lexington.

Jensen, a former executive at the Walt Disney Co. and Gitano, founded a literacy program in Kentucky and New York called the Starting Gate in 2009. And last October, Beshear re-appointed her to the Kentucky State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children.

(To see highlights of an interview with Jensen and Barr’s reaction to the news, watch Pure Politics Monday night on Time Warner Cable’s cn|2 at 7 p.m. EST or 11:30 p.m. EST.)

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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