Barr Defeats Chandler In Bellwether Congressional Race

Nov 6, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky.  -- Republican Andy Barr has upset Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who was unable to overcome a burdensome drag from the top of the ballot.

Barr made the 6th District race about the president, painting Chandler as Obama's surrogate. Obama also lost in Kentucky, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney picking up the state's eight electoral votes.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Barr had 151,136 votes or 51 percent, to 139,907 votes for Chandler, or 47 percent. Independent candidate Randolph Vance had 8,218 votes or 3 percent.

Chandler ran with what one political scientist described as an "Obama albatross" around his neck. Obama has long been an unpopular political figure in Kentucky, having lost the state in the 2008 primary and general elections.

This year, Obama yielded Kentucky to Romney after a poor showing in the Democratic primary. Some 42 percent of Kentucky Democrats marked their ballots "uncommitted" even though Obama was the only name on the ballot.

With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 793,731 votes or 59 percent, to 539,687 votes for Obama or 40 percent.

Latonia truck driver Ed Talley, 61, a lifelong Democrat who changed his registration to Republican earlier this year, voted for Romney. The deciding factor: disappointment in Obama.

"I thought the guy would shine. He's the first black president, and everything else, but he got his chance to shine and just bombed," Talley said.

Murray State University student Shawanta Jones said she voted for Obama. The 20-year-old Democrat said she has been impressed with president's handling of the economy.

"I mean, I live in it, and everybody knows it's so out of whack right now," Jones said. "It's starting to not only affect me, but my family."

By Tuesday afternoon, the Kentucky Attorney General's Office had received 130 calls dealing with procedural questions, complaints about voting machines, even three allegations of vote-buying or selling in Clay, Knox and Wolfe counties.

Ricky McKenna, a 22-year-old Republican who works at IGA in Morehead, voted for Romney, saying he was better for the economy. McKenna also voted in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment to protect hunting, an initiative of the National Rifle Association.

"I voted to keep the constitutional right for hunting the same, because we should have the right to hunt when we want to," McKenna said.

Chandler and Barr were in a rematch for the 6th District seat. Chandler won the last go-around by fewer than 700 votes.

Combined, Chandler and Barr spent some $4 million, with most of that going to mean-spirited TV ads that ran around-the-clock since late summer. Outside groups spent a similar amount on the race.

In other Kentucky congressional races, Republican U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie and Hal Rogers were re-elected on Tuesday, as was Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, who will be the last remaining Democrat in Kentucky's federal delegation after January's swearing in.

In Kentucky's 4th District, where U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis resigned, tea party Republican Thomas Massie defeated Democrat Bill Adkins, a northern Kentucky attorney.