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Former Fletcher aide running for Congress

FRANKFORT — A former staffer of Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for the 6th Congressional District seat.

Garland "Andy" Barr, 36, promised a group of supporters at a Lexington hotel that he would bring fiscal conservative values to Washington if elected in November 2010.

"The American people deserve better," Barr said. "They want leaders that will stop spending money that we don't have."

The Lexington lawyer is the first Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the seat held by Ben Chandler, D-Versailles. Barr formed an exploratory committee in September and had raised more than $185,000 by the end of September.

Matt Lockett, a Nicholasville Republican, also has expressed interest in running.

In his speech Tuesday, Barr hit on common conservative themes of less government, less debt and fiscally responsible spending.

He said he is against the House plan to overhaul the nation's health care system, calling it too costly. Barr said he would have voted against it because it was wrong, "not just when political expediency requires it," a reference to Chandler, an early supporter of President Barack Obama who broke ranks with Democrats and voted against the health care bill Saturday.

Barr also touted his opposition to cap-and-trade legislation, which would cap carbon emissions from coal-generating plants and allow companies to buy and sell permits to pollute. Chandler voted for the proposal earlier this year.

Much of Fletcher's four-year tenure was marred by a political hiring scandal, but Barr was never implicated. He said Tuesday he plans to stand by his record if opponents try to use the Fletcher hiring scandal against him.

"I am proud of my service," Barr said. "I was the voice of compliance within the administration."

Barr also noted he once worked for Steve Beshear, Fletcher's successor, at Stites & Harbison, a law firm. It was Beshear who persuaded Barr to go to Frankfort, Barr said Tuesday.

Barr graduated from Henry Clay High School in 1992 and the University of Virginia in 1996. He received his law degree from the University of Kentucky. Barr was a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Jim Talent, R-Mo., from 1996 to 1998.

After leaving state government when Fletcher was defeated in November 2007, Barr returned to private practice and is with Kinkead & Stilz. He is also a part-time instructor at UK, where he teaches constitutional law.

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