Lexington, KY – There are no less than six Republican Candidates who all want their shot at 6th District Democrat Ben Chandler's seat in Congress. And all, recently appeared together for a candidate's forum on Kentucky Educational Television.
Attorney Garland "Andy" Barr, and homebuilder John Kemper the third, hail from Lexington, retired coal executive Mike Templeman is from Frankfort, two other hopefuls, funeral services salesman Matt Lockett and retired G.E. maintenance specialist Preston Wilson Barnes claim Nicholasville as home base, and rounding out the slate is George Pendergrass of Georgetown, an emergency medical pilot who also owns an air-charter company.
All claim that Representative Chandler, a four term incumbent, is vulnerable because he turned his back on so-called Kentucky values by supporting unpopular Obama Administration initiatives including the post-Bush era stimulus package, the General Motors and Wall Street bailouts, and cap and trade legislation, (which many view as unfriendly to the coal industry).
The GOP hopefuls assert those actions have put Chandler at odds with a majority of conservative-leaning voters in Kentucky's sixth congressional district.
By a wide margin, Barr's campaign has raised the most money, (more than 400-thousand dollars compared to Templeman's 150-thousand according to documents filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance) and has garnered the support of local Republican Party leaders, as well as area tea party activists. To date, he's also the only candidate to produce and air any television ads for the primary. The one currently running in the Lexington market depicts Barr as a pro-life, pro-gun rights fiscal conservative.
All six candidates decry "wasteful government spending" and the threat of excessive federal regulation as the reason the economy continues to struggle to produce new jobs and wealth.
Whichever candidate prevails on Tuesday, he will face an uphill battle to unseat Democrat Ben Chandler, who has held the office since 2004, and the incumbent reports to have more than one point five million dollars of cash on hand to articulate his vision and defend his record. Chandler faced no Democratic opposition this primary season.
The last Republican to hold the seat was Ernie Fletcher, who stepped down in 2002 to launch a successful bid for Kentucky Governor, but state Republican Party Chair Steve Robertson says he believes central Kentucky voters may be looking for a change.
But Al Cross, Director of the UK Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, says winning a primary may be one thing, while prevailing in a general election could be a different matter entirely.
In Kentucky the polls open Tuesday morning at 6.