Clark County voters followed a district-wide trend Tuesday by overwhelmingly favoring Republican Andy Barr for the the District 6 Congressional seat in his defeat of Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler.
Barr, a Lexington attorney, lost to Chandler in 2010 by 648 votes but defeated him Tuesday by more than 11,000 votes, thanks in large part to a huge sentiment in the 19-county district against Democratic President Barack Obama.
In Clark County, Barr earned 8,931 votes, about 58 percent of the total, to Chandler’s 6,076, about 40 percent of total votes. Barr made several campaign stops in Winchester, including a recent Republican rally at the Clark County Courthouse. He thanked Clark Countians for their support, and predicted his own victory.
Barr was successful in linking Chandler to Obama, especially on Chandler’s support in 2009 for the Obama-backed “cap and trade” bill that angered coal officials by seeking to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal-powered plants. The measure never did become law. Barr mentioned “cap and trade” at the Clark Candidates Forum, pledging support for the coal industry and down-playing Chandler’s endorsement from the United Mine Workers of America.
During a victory rally at the Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington, an ebullient Barr said some people wrote him off two years ago and said he should not seek a rematch.
“Maybe at one point in time they had a point,” he said. “After all, especially after redistricting, we faced an entrenched incumbent with a celebrated name in Kentucky in a district with twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans. But when they told us we couldn’t win, we said ‘For the sake of our country, we cannot afford to lose.’”
After his speech, Barr told reporters that voters wanted a change in economic policies.
“We need and the American people deserve more economic opportunity and jobs,” he said. “That message resonated with the people of this district, and now it’s my responsibility to get that accomplished for them.”
Barr said he was able to build “a consensus of shared values” across the district and said it is his “duty to do everything I can to work” with whoever is president.
“I don’t think we have any choice because the problems of this country are too great,” he said. “We have to work on a bipartisan basis.”
Barr said Chandler called him to concede and pledged to help him with a smooth transition. He said he thanked Chandler for his service in government.
Chandler publicly conceded the race at about 9:15 p.m. during a short speech at a Democratic gathering at Buster’s in downtown Lexington.