LEXINGTON — Ben Chandler and other central Kentucky Democrats gathered here Saturday morning to engage in “a near spiritual experience,” to walk neighborhoods and urge supporters to go to the polls Tuesday and vote Democratic.
Chandler is in another dogfight with Republican challenger Andy Barr to keep his 6th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two years ago, Chandler barely held off a late-charging Barr by 648 votes.
Not much has changed in two years. Barr’s campaign seems to be closing fast and continues to hammer Chandler on a vote for a “cap and trade” energy bill which didn’t get out of Congress and which Chandler said included money for clean coal technology and research which would have benefited the Kentucky coal industry.
Barr claims the bill would have cost thousands of jobs and blames Chandler and President Barack Obama for about 2,000 lost mining jobs in eastern Kentucky.
Chandler called that charge “ridiculous,” saying Barr and outside Republican groups have run television ads that “have just lied” and mischaracterized both his vote and the bill. Even coal market analysts, Chandler pointed out, blame the mild winter and competition from cheap natural gas for falling coal prices rather than environmental policies.
He said his vote to bail out the automobile industry is the one that most affected Kentucky, which has 70,000 auto jobs, at least 8,000 of those in Scott County alone at Toyota.
“What was more important was for the auto industry to be rescued,” Chandler said Saturday. “And (Barr) was against that. This is an industry that is absolutely crucial to people right here. There are 70,000 auto industry jobs right here in Kentucky and my opponent opposed the rescue of that industry.”
Fayette County PVA David O’Neill told the crowd of around 100 supporters Republican negative advertising is an attempt to “drive down the vote” and urged them to get out the vote by taking to the streets and knocking on doors in “a near spiritual experience.”