Attorney Andy Barr is moving up a notch in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” campaign program, after a blowout primary victory in Kentucky’s 6th district.
The NRCC announced Friday that Barr is being advanced to “Contender” status, the middle level of the three-tiered fundraising and support program that has become the committee’s premier candidate development tool.
Barr earned 64 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, winning a six-candidate contest that included Mike Templeman, a wealthy former coal executive who put more than $100,000 of his own money into the race. Templeman finished in second place with just 10 percent of the vote.
House Republicans have clearly put a target on Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler’s back this cycle. His Lexington-based district went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by 12 points in the 2008 presidential race, and GOP campaign strategists are hoping voters with connections to the coal and energy industry will want to punish Chandler for his vote to support the House cap-and-trade bill.
Democrats are certainly taking Barr seriously; within minutes of his victory Tuesday, the state Democratic Party released a statement that made it clear that they intend to make an issue of Barr’s previous work for disgraced former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R). Barr worked as a deputy general counsel to Fletcher — who was defeated in his re-election bid in the wake of a hiring scandal that made national headlines — before taking a job at the Lexington-based law firm Kinkead & Stilz.
Chandler spokeswoman Jennifer Krimm said the Congressman is well-prepared for his challenge in the fall.
“Congressman Chandler takes every election seriously and has a record amount of cash on hand,” Krimm said. “The Congressman is working hard for his constituents now and working hard to win re-election in the fall.”
Post-primary reports have yet to be filed but Chandler had nearly $1.7 million in the bank at the end of April and no primary challenge on Tuesday.