FRANKFORT — Six Republicans want Democrat Ben Chandler's job in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But Chandler, who was elected to Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District in 2004, has no opposition in the May 18 Democratic primary.
Republicans consider Chandler more vulnerable than in years past, said Andy Sere, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Ben Chandler is in for a fight," he said.
Chandler, of Versailles, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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Former coal businessman Mike Templeman officially entered the race against Chandler with sharp comments Tuesday.
Templeman said Chandler should not have voted for President Barack Obama's "cap-and-trade" energy bill and is "a lap dog" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Templeman said Chandler made "a terrible mistake" by voting for the cap-and-trade legislation, which would essentially put a price on carbon dioxide emissions by auctioning off permits to emit the gas. The "cap" would work by setting a maximum amount of carbon to be emitted in the United States, and the "trade" would allow the carbon emitters to freely trade carbon permits among themselves.
"Our economy has been based on cheap energy for a long, long time," Templeman said. "Under this legislation, Kentuckians would be hurt."
Templeman said Chandler "has lost touch. He has not done anything to address this jobs issue in our state."
He also said Chandler "needs to stop traveling" so much in office. "He needs to come home. He's got a wife and some kids maybe he needs to spend time with."
The Herald-Leader reported in October 2008 about Chandler's trip at taxpayers' expense to the Galapagos Islands as part of a congressional "fact-finding" trip that drew headlines nationwide. Chandler defended the excursion, arguing that what he learned has been vital to Congress's ongoing understanding of climate change.
Meanwhile, GOP congressional candidate Andy Barr said in a news release "the interest in this race by others is indicative of the widespread discontent with our current representation in Washington."
Barr noted he has raised more than $300,000 in about three months for his campaign and was recognized this week by the National Republican Congressional Committee for his ability to raise money and build a successful campaign structure.
Other Republicans seeking the seat are Perry Wilson Barnes of Nicholasville; Matt Lockett and John T. Kemper III, both of Lexington; and George Pendergrass of Georgetown.
The state's other Democratic member of Congress — John Yarmuth of Louisville — attracted five Republican opponents.
Eleven people — six Republicans and five Democrats — have signed up to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky that is being vacated by Republican Jim Bunning.
For a list of all the Kentucky candidates for U.S. representative and U.S. Senate, go to www.sos.ky.gov and click on the Elections icon.