6th District Congressional Race Heats Up

Sep 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - As the race for Kentucky’s 6th  Congressional District intensifies, Congressman Ben Chandler and GOP challenger Andy Barr are increasingly turning to attack ads to get their message to voters.

They began on a mostly positive note back in August, but now, ads with titles like “Better Future” and “Belief” have given way to pointed attacks, such as this one, delivered by a man dressed in overalls and a mining helmet:

"Obama, Ben Chandler, and the EPA are destroying us. They are putting the coal industry out of business."

The star of the ad is Heath Lovell, a man Chandler campaign manager Eric Nagy says isn’t the blue-collar coal miner he appears to be.

"The simple fact is this is a corporate coal executive," Nagy says.

Andy Barr disagrees, countering, "Mr. Lovell is a coal miner and is very proud to be a coal miner and I am proud to have his support." 

Lovell is the Vice President of River View Coal in Union County, but says he still goes underground and keeps up his coal miner training. The controversy over the ad mirrors a broader debate about what it means to support coal miners.

A recent internal Chandler poll shows the congressman leading his opponent by 14 points, but Barr strategists are quick to point out that a mid-September poll in 2010 showed a 20-point lead for Chandler. That race came down to 647 votes.

"We feel very confident," says Nagy. The polls, he contends, are on Chandler’s side.

Barr says the same was said last time and the race turned out to be third closest in the country.   

"This is a neck-and-neck race and that's an honest appraisal of where we are," he says.

Both candidates will debate October 29th on KET.