Chandler and Barr hit the airwaves

Chandler stresses his independence

jcheves@herald-leader.comAugust 26, 2010 

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington

Both candidates in the 6th Congressional District race are up on Central Kentucky airwaves with television advertising, and they expect to remain so through the Nov. 2 election.

"It's always a good idea to start early," said U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, who faces his toughest re-election fight since going to Congress in 2004. "I haven't been on the air in any real way for six years, so it's important to reacquaint voters with what I've done and what I hope to be doing in the near future."

Chandler's opponent, Republican lawyer Andy Barr of Lexington, on Wednesday launched his first commercial for the fall election. It's an attack on "politics as usual," showing images of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — but not Chandler.

"In Washington, the channel never changes," a narrator says as the camera pans past a wall of television screens. "Career politicians failing us. Trillion-dollar bailouts. Deficit spending. Job-killing legislation. Let's change the channel."

The commercial shows that Washington's current leadership is "taking the country in the wrong direction," Barr campaign manager John Connell said Wednesday. "Andy Barr will bring new leadership that stops the spending spree and focus on getting Central Kentuckians back to work."

Chandler this week is running his second commercial, crediting him for being "very much involved in the crusade" to save the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Leestown Road in Lexington. Chandler opposed the threatened closure of the center in 2004, and he has urged the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to spend more on that campus.

In his debut ad, which launched earlier this month, Chandler reintroduced himself to voters and stressed his independence as Kentucky's attorney general and later as a congressman. Reflecting a lack of popularity for incumbents this year, that commercial avoided the verb "re-elect," and it did not identify Chandler's party affiliation. It did credit Chandler for "standing up to his own party to oppose the Wall Street bailout."

Chandler said he's not making any special effort to distance himself from the Democratic Party or an unpopular Congress.

"I have a record of being independent. It's a record that goes back some time," Chandler said, citing some of his actions as attorney general, such as prosecuting the chief of staff of then-Gov. Paul Patton, a fellow Democrat, for campaign-finance violations. "If the Republican Party is going to suggest that I'm a tool of somebody else, there is no basis in fact for that."

Chandler is scheduled to spend $62,061 on Lexington's four television stations over the next week, on top of $117,153 he spent from Aug. 5 through Wednesday, according to the public ad file at WKYT-TV. Barr is scheduled to spend $70,659 on the same four stations over the next week.

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