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Andy Barr’s first quarter fundraising leaves him with more than $1.1 million

Jensen_barrBy Sam Youngman

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr raised more than $361,000 for his re-election bid in the first quarter of 2014, leaving him with more than $1.1 million in cash on hand at the start of spring, his campaign reported Monday.

Barr, R-Lexington, began the year with just more than $900,000 in cash.

During the first quarter, Barr raised more than $257,000 from individuals and about $104,000 from political action committees.

Elisabeth Jensen, the likely Democratic nominee to challenge Barr in November, has not yet released her first-quarter haul.

Jensen finished 2013 with about $245,000 in cash on hand after she loaned her campaign $100,000 and raised $100,000 in the fourth quarter.

Barr challenger runs radio ad praising health care law

Democrat Elisabeth Jensen of LexingtonBy Sam Youngman

Democratic congressional candidate Elisabeth Jensen embraces the federal health care law pushed by President Barack Obama and Gov. Steve Beshear in her campaign’s first radio ad.

Jensen, who is the likely Democratic nominee to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, released an ad Monday morning that praises Beshear for implementing a Kentucky version of the health care law and blasts Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for threatening to repeal it.

“Thanks to Gov. Beshear, Kentucky Kynect provides health care to Kentuckians who had no insurance,” Jensen says in the ad. “But Barr, along with Mitch McConnell, voted to end Kynect and let insurance companies drop coverage, deny care and charge women more.”

The ad notes that Barr has voted to repeal the controversial health care law 19 times and charges that the congressman has taken $148,000 in contributions from insurance companies.

“I often say Kentucky moms like me get more done by noon than Congress gets done in a week,” Jensen says in the ad. “So when I learned Congressman Andy Barr voted 19 times to repeal health care reform, I was disappointed.”

Kentucky officials said last week that enrollment was surging in the state in the lead-up to the self-imposed sign-up deadline of Friday night.

As of Friday, officials said more than 400,000 people had signed up, with the majority of participants joining Medicaid as part of an expansion of the program ordered by Beshear.

Jensen’s campaign did not disclose how much money it was spending on the ad, which is scheduled to start running in Central Kentucky starting Tuesday.

In the Democratic primary, Jensen faces retired Lexington engineer Geoff Young, a former Green Party member. Young said earlier this month that he has loaned his campaign $50,000.

Click here to listen to the ad.

Grimes and Jensen join national Democrats in pushing for Paycheck Fairness Act

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman

Kentucky Democratic candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes and Elisabeth Jensen joined national Democrats Tuesday in calling for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, blasting their male opponents as outdated and committed to discriminatory pay practices.

Grimes is running to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Jensen hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

“Today, thousands will make their voices heard and call for action,” Grimes said in an email to supporters. “One voice you will not hear in this chorus is Mitch McConnell’s. For nearly 30 years, people in Kentucky and across the country have called on McConnell to speak up on issues important to women and working families — and for nearly 30 years, McConnell has failed to answer that call.”

Jensen said the day is “a reminder to Kentucky women of Andy Barr’s wrong priorities that put special interests ahead of middle-class families and the women who support them.”

Both statements came Tuesday morning before President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak on the matter. Obama’s efforts to push the issue were complicated by a report released in January by the conservative American Enterprise Institute that showed women working in the White House make 88-cents to every dollar a man makes.

Say Cheese! Paul Ryan and Andy Barr bet on UK-Wisconsin

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington By Sam Youngman

If Kentucky manages to beat Wisconsin in Saturday night’s Final Four game, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr will have some Badger State cheese to go with the bourbon he won off U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth last week.

Barr and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., have a placed a friendly wager on the Wildcats-Badgers game, and the stakes are cheesy.

If Wisconsin wins, Barr has to give Ryan some Kentucky beer cheese. If the Cats move on, Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, owes Barr some Wisconsin Gouda.

“Between their unprecedented tournament play and the Julius-Randle-home-court advantage, I am confident that the Cats’ 16th Final Four appearance will be just the next step in their path to number nine,” Barr said. “I am looking forward to adding some of Congressman Paul Ryan’s famed Wisconsin gouda cheese to my winnings after we beat his Badgers.”

Ryan responded that Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan “and the Badgers are on a roll and that’s going to continue on Saturday against Kentucky.”

“Frank Kaminsky has been playing lights out, and they are going to give a talented Wildcats team more than they can handle,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a great game but you can’t beat the Badgers’ experience and efficiency. I look forward to enjoying Congressman Barr’s Kentucky beer cheese as UW plays for the NCAA championship.”

Barr won a collection of bourbons distilled in Yarmuth’s Louisville district after the Cats beat Louisville last weekend in the Sweet 16.

Kentucky congressmen bet bourbon on Cats-Cards game

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington
By Sam Youngman

As the trash talk heading into Friday’s March Madness match-up between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals hits a fever pitch, two of Kentucky’s congressmen are getting in on the rivalry.

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth announced a friendly wager on the outcome of the game, with the winner taking home a bottle of bourbon from every distillery in the other’s home district.

If Louisville were to win — in a reversal from Kentucky’s tournament victory over the Cardinals in 2012 — Barr would be on the hook to deliver a bottle from Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Town Branch and Barrel House Distillery.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville

Barr took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday morning to declare his allegiance to the Wildcats, noting Kentucky’s win over Louisville in December.

“When it comes to college basketball, there’s simply no place like my old Kentucky home,” Barr said. “Our Wildcats won the meeting earlier this season and I am looking forward to enjoying some of our neighboring district’s finest distilled spirits after the Cats beat the Cardinals … again.”

Yarmuth responded, in a joint statement from both offices, that “Kentucky has a lot of talented players, and they’re maturing into a great basketball team.”

“But the Cardinals are proven winners,” Yarmuth said. “The defending champs lead the nation in margin of victory, turnover margin and, by my count, booms. And Coach Pitino’s undefeated Sweet 16 record is — there’s no other word for it — Russdiculous.”

Andy Barr raises $275,000 in last fundraising quarter

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-LexingtonBy Sam Youngman

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr raised $1.35 million last year, including $275,000 in the fourth quarter.

Barr, who is up for re-election this year in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, finished the year with about $900,000 in cash on hand, up from the $781,000 he posted at the end of the third quarter in 2013.

Barr’s full fundraising report, which isn’t due until the end of the month, was not yet available from the Federal Election Commission. The top-line numbers were provided by his campaign.

Barr continues to enjoy a significant financial advantage over his closest Democratic challenger, Elisabeth Jensen.

Jensen raised a total of $325,000 in 2013, including $100,000 in the fourth quarter. Jensen also loaned her campaign $100,000. She has about $245,000 in cash on hand.

Democrat challenging Andy Barr raises $100,000 in 4th quarter

Democrat Elisabeth Jensen of LexingtonBy Sam Youngman

Elisabeth Jensen, a Democrat vying to challenge U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in November, raised $100,000 in the final fundraising quarter of 2013, her campaign said Wednesday.

Jensen, who is director of the Lexington-based Race for Education, said she raised $325,000 in 2013 and loaned her campaign an additional $100,000 in the fourth quarter. Her campaign has about $245,000 in cash on hand.

Although Jensen almost doubled what she raised in the third quarter, which was about $51,000, she continues to face a significant fundraising gap against Barr, R-Lexington.

Barr has not yet reported his end-of-year totals, but he raised $265,000 in the third quarter and finished with a little more than $780,000 in cash on hand.

Lexington retiree Geoff Young also is seeking the Democratic nomination. Lexington businessman Joe Palumbo withdrew from the race in early November.

The 6th Congressional District covers 19 counties in Central Kentucky.

Elisabeth Jensen officially enters 6th Congressional District race

Democrat Elisabeth Jensen of Lexington]By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Democrat Elisabeth Jensen of Lexington made her campaign for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District official Tuesday.

Jensen, director of the Lexington-based Race for Education, filed her campaign papers with the secretary of state’s office to run for the seat next year.

Signing her papers were state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, and her campaign treasurer, Laura D’Angelo.

Jensen hopes to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, who captured the seat in 2012 from Democrat Ben Chandler.

The 19-county district includes Lexington.

Jensen is making her first run for public office. She is a 2011 graduate of Emerge Kentucky, a leadership class designed to encourage more Democratic women to run for public office.

She has volunteered in campaigns for several Democratic candidates, including Gov. Steve Beshear and Chandler. She was an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

A native of Indiana, Jensen has spent the past decade leading Race for Education, a nonprofit that provides scholarships and focuses on literacy and other education initiatives, including financial literacy for college students.

Before starting Race for Education, Jensen worked for WinStar Farm, Walt Disney Corp. and Gitano, a jeans company. She has a degree in design and merchandising from what is now the Wood Tobé-Coburn School in New York.

Retired Lexington engineer Geoff Young filed to seek the Democratic nomination on Dec. 3. Young worked for 13 years as an assistant director in what is now called the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence. He has a bachelors degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts. He also has a master’s degree in agriculture economics from the University of Kentucky.

Lexington attorney Michael L. Coblenz said Tuesday he is considering entering the race as a Democrat.

With a Tea Party voting record, Andy Barr works overtime on constituent outreach

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-LexingtonBy Sam Youngman

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr could only laugh in response when Jane Friedman of Lexington stood up at his town hall in Winchester last week.

“You’re not under a rock like your predecessor was,” Friedman said.

Barr’s predecessor, of course, was former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, and Barr seems determined to avoid his fate, making constituent outreach a focus as he aims for re-election next year.

Barr did 20 events in the 6th Congressional District last week, touring Ale-8-One, taking questions from University of Kentucky students about the National Security Agency and attending town halls like the one in Winchester.

“I’m not really focused on what other people did or didn’t do,” Barr told the Lexington Herald-Leader last week. “That’s not why I’m doing it. It makes me a better representative. Frankly, it’s my favorite part of the job.”

In a district where registered Democrats outweigh Republicans 59 percent to 33 percent, Barr might well need to put in the hours and the miles to offset a voting record that mirrors his Tea Party colleagues in the U.S. House.

Joe Palumbo withdraws from Central Kentucky congressional race

Democrat Joe Palumbo of LexingtonBy Sam Youngman

Lexington businessman Joe Palumbo has decided to withdraw from the Democratic primary race for the 6th District U.S. House seat held by Republican Andy Barr.

Palumbo, the son of longtime state Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that his family and his business are his top priorities, and he doesn’t think now is the time to start a political career.

“After discussing it with my wife, Jennifer, we decided at this time that it would be best to focus on our responsibilities at home, with our two young children, and at Palumbo Lumber, where we have almost 50 full-time employees,” Palumbo said.

The Palumbos have an 8-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

Palumbo said he and his wife “still plan to work hard to do what we can to make this great community even better.”

Palumbo pledged to “support and do what I can to help whoever wins the Democratic primary.”

Palumbo’s exit from the race means that education advocate Elisabeth Jensen is the likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Jensen said in a statement that she hopes to get support from Palumbo “as we join forces in becoming part of a Congress that works.”

She said her campaign will focus on bringing a “solutions-based approach to Congress.”

“Instead of kicking children and families off of SNAP benefits, and shutting down the government as a political ploy, we need to be focusing on education and workforce development to create opportunities for Kentucky’s working families,” Jensen said.

Other Democrats who have said they intend to seek the party’s nomination include Lexington lawyer Michael Coblenz and retired engineer Geoff Young.

Whoever advances from the Democratic primary faces a significant cash disadvantage against Barr, who had almost $1 million in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.

Palumbo outpaced Jensen in the third quarter, raising more than $95,000 and lending his campaign an additional $50,000 since entering the race in mid-July. Palumbo’s $145,000 topped the more than $51,000 Jensen raised, bringing her total since entering the race in mid-June to more than $125,000.

Palumbo didn’t rule out a future run on either the state or federal levels.

“Since I got in the race in July, I’ve learned a lot from traveling the district and listening to the good people of this region,” Palumbo said. “It has been a rewarding experience to get to better know the hard-working people of the 6th District who make this part of Kentucky so special.”