By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
Republican Andy Barr conceded defeat to Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler on Friday, 10 days after voters cast their ballots in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
“I can find no substantial reason or compelling evidence that would justify a petition for a recount,” Barr said during a news conference in Lexington at the Fayette County Republican Party headquarters.
Barr said he called Chandler shortly before making the announcement and congratulated the now five-term congressman on his narrow win.
Barr would not answer questions about his political future, including whether he would challenge Chandler again in two years. The Lexington lawyer said he looks forward to returning to private practice. Barr, 36, also announced that he and his wife Carol were expecting a daughter in April.
Earlier in the day, a recanvass of vote machines in the district’s 16 counties showed Chandler leading Barr by 648 votes.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson said the recanvass, a re-tabulation of totals from each voting machine that was completed at the request of Barr, gave Barr one additional vote in Lincoln County. The final count showed Chandler with 119,812 votes and Barr with 119,164 votes.
The final stamp of approval on the race comes from the Kentucky Board of Elections, which is scheduled to meet Nov. 22.
Barr said he has no regrets about the race. Chandler, a longtime Kentucky politician and former state attorney general, ran an effective race, Barr said.
“We made this one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation against one of the most well-known names in Kentucky politics,” Barr said.
At a news conference on Friday, Chandler, 51, again thanked his supporters and pledged to do more to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
“It’s been a hard-fought campaign. I think both Mr. Barr and I are glad that it’s over,” Chandler said. “And I think the people of Central Kentucky, after all the commercials they’ve had to endure, I’m sure they’re also glad it’s over.”
Chandler declined to say if he would support U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the House Minority Leader.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” Chandler said.
Chandler also said he wasn’t sure if he would be targeted by Republicans again in 2012.
“I haven’t thought about that,” Chandler said.” I’m just about a hour and a half fresh off this victory.”
The race initially was projected as another easy win for Chandler, a member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. But in early fall the race was called a “toss-up” by pundits as many voters became concerned about the economy and the federal deficit.
The race was hostile and expensive.
Barr, Chandler and many outside groups spent millions of dollars on television advertisements that were often inaccurate.
Barr was critical of Chandler’s support of many of President Barack Obama’s programs — including the stimulus package and his vote on the doomed cap-and-trade plan, which would have curbed greenhouse gas emissions.
Barr found himself on the defensive because of his work as a staff attorney for Gov. Ernie Fletcher during the state hiring investigation five years ago. Barr was never accused of wrongdoing, but Chandler attacked him for guilt by association.
Herald-Leader staff writer Andy Mead contributed to this story.