Chandler / Barr Ad War Heating Up

Aug 14, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky.  -- Lest anyone forget about the fall rematch between Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler and Republican Andy Barr, the two kicked off their TV advertising campaigns on Tuesday.

Chandler used his first campaign ad to criticize government spending, saying it's important to get federal debt under control while at the same time protecting Medicare and Social Security.

Barr allowed his wife to make his case to voters in his first TV spot, touting him as a family man who wants a better future for children.

Barr is challenging Chandler for the 6th District congressional seat in what is widely considered Kentucky's most competitive federal race on the Nov. 6 ballot. Two years ago, Barr lost to Chandler by 647 votes.

The Chandler campaign is spending nearly $50,000 on its first ad, which is scheduled to run through Sunday. The ad boasts that Chandler has voted against congressional pay raises and held down his office spending to return more than $500,000 to taxpayers.

"The ad reaffirms the congressman's commitment to seniors and emphasizes his dedication to protect Social Security and Medicare so that all Americans may have dignity in old age," said Chandler spokeswoman Meghan Groob.

Barr's 30-second ad, airing on Lexington TV, includes video of him and his wife with their 1-year-old daughter reading a book and laughing together.

"Andy wants a better future for all our children," Carol Barr says. "That means we have to be more responsible with how we spend our money and the people we trust to lead us."

Barr is spending $82,000 to run the spot on Lexington TV, and another $20,000 to put it on the radio and Internet.

The independent political group Patriot Majority USA has already been running ads in support of Chandler.

"The beginning of our television ad campaign ... demonstrates that we have the resources and commitment to communicate our message to the voters of the 6th Congressional District," Barr said in a statement.

In filings with the Federal Election Commission last month, Barr reported more than $1 million raised, compared to Chandler's $1.5 million.

Chandler, a former attorney general who has served central Kentucky in Congress since 2004, reported that he still has $1.3 million on hand, compared with Barr's $750,000.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul endorsed Barr in the race on Monday, in a move intended to motivate tea party activists. Paul also headlined a fundraiser for Barr on Monday.

Barr, while sharing the tea party's conservative fiscal philosophy, differs on some other key issues. Those include the PATRIOT Act, the nation's counter-terrorism initiative that gives law enforcement broad authority for surveillance of U.S. citizens. Barr supports the PATRIOT Act. Paul, like many tea party activists, considers it an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government into citizens' private lives.

Paul said Barr agrees with the tea party on enough issues to warrant an endorsement, and at least some 6th District tea party leaders agree.