Ben Chandler, D-Sixth District, who comes from one of Kentucky’s most famous political families, is seeking his fourth term in Congress.

Andy Barr, who is seeking his first elective office, is hoping that a rising tide for Republicans nationally can sweep him into Washington.

Barr, 36, grew up in Lexington, where he practices law and teaches part-time at the University of Kentucky law school.

An honors graduate of the University of Virginia, Barr worked two years as an aide to a Missouri congressman before earning a law degree from UK in 2001.

In his campaign, Barr has said the current economic crisis was prompted by excessive federal spending and debt.

“Employers are not hiring now in large part because of the proposals coming out of Washington that would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, do away with the secret ballot in workplace elections, increase energy costs through a new cap and trade system for carbon emissions,” Barr said.

Low-cost electricity generated by coal-fired plants helps make Kentucky attractive to industry, Barr said during a recent visit with Madison Country industrial managers. Limits on carbon emissions would also reduce jobs and income from the mining of coal, one of the state’s largest industries, he said.

Denying workers the right to a secret ballot when deciding on union representations would expose them to potential intimidation and make Kentucky less attractive to new industry, said a manager who attending the meeting with Barr.

In Barr’s campaign materials, he pledges to:

• Fight for earmark reform and oppose pork barrel projects

• Vote to use unspent “stimulus” money to pay down the federal debit

• Oppose increasing the federal debt ceiling

• Oppose privatizing Social Security

• Support term limits for members of Congress and chairs of congressional committees.

Ben Chandler

The grandson of former governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler, the incumbent grew up in Versailles, where his family still owns the local newspaper. He is an honors graduate of UK, from which he also earned a law degree.

Chandler, 51, served four years as state auditor and eight as attorney general before losing a gubernatorial bid to Ernie Fletcher in 2003. He then was elected to fill the seat that Fletcher had held in Congress.

Although he endorsed Barack Obama for president prior to the 2008 Kentucky primary, Chandler broke ranks with the president early in his administration by voting against a highly contentious health care reform bill that ultimately was signed into law.

On visits to Madison County, Chandler has touted earmarks he engineered to build roads in Berea and fund renewable energy research by Eastern Kentucky University.

Leaders of the Chemical Destruction Citizens Advisory Board have heaped praise on Chandler and U.S. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for their bi-partisan efforts to attain full funding to destroy the chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

If Republicans campaigning on platforms similar to Barr’s are elected to Congress and slash federal spending as much as they promise, Chandler said the Pentagon will be hard pressed to fully fund destruction of chemical weapons while the war in Afghanistan continues.

Chandler came to Richmond recently to help a local manufacturing plant celebrate a receiving a loan guaranteed by the economic recovery act that Republicans have criticized.

The loan guarantee averted the potential loss of about 40 jobs and kept the plant in business so it can rehire laid-off workers when the economic eventually regains steam, Chandler said.

Cuts in federal aid to education will make American workers less able to compete in the global economy, the congressman has said.

Chandler has said his vote for the “cap-and-trade” legislation was based his concern for his children’s future if carbon emissions lead to irreversible climate change.

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6622.

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