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Former U.S. Rep. Chandler joins government relations firm

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler spoke at the Red Mile Clubhouse on Aug. 17, 2009.

FRANKFORT –Former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, has joined a new government relations firm. He will remain as executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council.

Chandler has joined with three principals of Strategic Advisers, a Northern Kentucky-based public relations and government relations firm to launch a new government relations firm called Omni Advocacy Group.

Omni Advocacy Group provides lobbying, advocacy and other consulting services to clients involved with local, state, federal and international governments.

The new firm is being led by Chandler and Patrick Crowley, a former Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who founded Strategic Advisers in 2009 with former Covington City Manager Jay Fossett. Greg Greene, a former banker, joined the firm in 2011.

Chandler is to operate Omni’s office in Central Kentucky. He was in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2004 to 2013, representing Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District

–Jack Brammer

Contemplating his future, Ben Chandler says all options still on table

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — After 21 years as an elected official, Ben Chandler is looking for a new job.

“I have no idea what the future holds,” he said Thursday morning, about 36 hours after losing his seat in the U.S. Congress to Republican Andy Barr.

Possible options for the Democrat from Woodford County include seeking another elective office, accepting an appointment for public office, becoming a lobbyist or pursuing the presidency of Eastern Kentucky University.

Chandler, 53, has been in Congress since February 2004. He won a special election then to replace Republican Ernie Fletcher, who defeated Chandler in the 2003 race for Kentucky governor.

Chandler will depart Congress in January 2013 to make way for Barr, a Lexington attorney who defeated him by 11,786 votes in Tuesday’s race for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat. Barr narrowly lost to Chandler by 648 votes in 2010.

Barr says Heath Lovell ad was turning point in race against Chandler

By Jack Brammer — jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Everyone — including the two major-party candidates — thought this year’s race for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District would be extremely close.

It wasn’t.

Republican Andy Barr, who lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler by only 648 votes in their 2010 contest, outdistanced Chandler by 11,786 votes in Tuesday’s election, creating the Kentucky upset of the day.

Barr got 50.57 percent of the 302,998 votes cast and Chandler trailed with 46.68 percent.

Barr, a bit weary Wednesday after only a few hours of sleep, credited his campaign’s victory on its unrelenting focus on coal and Chandler’s ties to President Barack Obama, who captured only 38 percent of the vote in Kentucky.

VIDEO: Andy Barr declares victory and Ben Chandler concedes #kyelect

Republican Andy Barr’s victory speech after winning Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District election:

Andy Barr Part 2:

Andy Barr Part 3:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler concedes:

Chandler adviser predicts early night

Unlike many folks at the party for Rep. Ben Chandler at Busters in Lexington, Geoff Reed, Chandler’s senior advisor, said he thought Chandler would have a decisive victory early in the night.

“I think we’ll know something in an hour or so,” Reed said at 8 p.m. “The process seems to be going well.”

Reed said the campaign was pleased by Chandler’s margin of victory in Fayette County.

“We thought we’d win by two or three points, and we’re winning by five or six,” he said.

Although some news outlets were reporting Barr ahead in the district, Reed said they would wait to see results from the important counties of Franklin and Madison, with strong Democratic populations.

Chandler, meanwhile, was watching returns at home in Versailles, and Reed said he would not show up at Busters until the race was decided.

Photos: Andy Barr and Ben Chandler cast their votes #kyelect

Get comprehensive election coverage today on Kentucky.com, including up-to-the-minute vote results starting at 6 p.m.

2012 Voters’ Guide: Find out where the candidates stand

Election Day is almost here, but there’s still time to find out where the candidates stand on the issues most important to you. Click the links below to see our Voters’ Guide for each race (all links are PDF’s).

President of the United States

U.S. House, Sixth District

• State House Districts in Fayette County Part 1 and Part 2 (Contested races only)

State Senate District in Fayette County (Contested races only)

• Urban County Council Districts 1-8 (Contested races only)

• Urban County Council Districts 9-12 (Contested races only)

Also, view a list of candidates in Kentucky’s contested state and federal races, along with candidates in contested local races in Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Scott and Woodford counties.

Key Voter Info:

• Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.

• To find out whether you are registered to vote, where you vote and which races you may vote in, go to the Voter Information Center at the State Board of Elections Web site, Elect.ky.gov .

• Voters must produce identification or be known by a precinct officer before voting.

• If you see problems, call Attorney General Jack Conway’s election-fraud hotline, 1-800-328-8683 (press release).

• It is illegal for retailers to sell malt beverages, distilled spirits and wine during polling hours.

Campaign Watchdog: Democrats’ abortion claim about Andy Barr false

The Herald-Leader will routinely check the accuracy of statements made by candidates and their surrogates leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

By John Stamper — jstamper@herald-leader.com

The statement: Andy Barr “says here he’ll vote to outlaw a woman’s right to choose, and make it a crime — with no exceptions. … Not even if your life is at risk.”

— Radio ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The ruling: False

The facts: Republican Andy Barr’s stance on exceptions to an abortion ban has been a hot topic this week after he refused to answer a question about the issue during a debate Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television.

Barr, a Lexington lawyer, is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles in Tuesday’s election. Barr has promoted himself as a pro-life candidate throughout his campaign, including in a mailer that showed a photo of his daughter.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claims Barr said he would make no exceptions to a ban on abortion, even when the mother’s life was in danger. That’s not what happened during the KET debate.

Campaign Watchdog: Claim that Chandler opposes Alaskan drilling mostly true

The Herald-Leader will routinely check the accuracy of statements made by candidates and their surrogates leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

By John Cheves — jcheves@herald-leader.com

The statement: “Despite rising gas prices, Chandler voted against expanding drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.”

— Online ad by FreedomWorks for America attacking U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles

The ruling: Mostly true

The facts: Chandler, who faces Republican challenger Andy Barr in Tuesday’s election, opposes oil drilling in the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska, a protected habitat for polar bears, caribou and seabirds.

Congress has debated drilling in ANWR for several decades, most recently in a pro-drilling House bill in February that Chandler voted against. The House approved that bill but has not sent it to the Senate for further action.

Spending on TV ads in Chandler-Barr race nears $4 million

By Jack Brammer — jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Candidates and outside interest groups have spent nearly $4 million to sway voters in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler and Republican Andy Barr.

The heavy spending on TV ads in the race is “quite a lot for a U.S. House race in a poor state,” said Don Dugi, a political science professor at Lexington’s Transylvania University.

A possible consequence, he said, is lower voter turnout.

“A lot of negative TV ads usually create voter fatigue from seeing all those bloody commercials,” Dugi said. “They take motivation away from voting, which usually helps Republicans in districts where they are in the minority.”

In the 19-county district, Democrats outnumber Republicans 1,665,853 to 1,151,331.

A review of TV ad buys in the Lexington market shows that the campaigns of Chandler and Barr have spent a combined $1.1 million for TV ads in the last three weeks of their tight, contentious race.