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Kentucky: New Lines Strengthen Ben Chandler

At long last, Kentucky’s Congressional delegation can break out the bourbon.

After weeks of Sturm und Drang, the split state Legislature passed a solid incumbent-protection map this afternoon. It will be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear today.

“I’m signing this bill today to provide certainty to this process so candidates can file for office,” Beshear said in a statement. “Redistricting is always a partisan process, and no redistricting plan will please everybody.”

One person who is pleased: Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler, who won an extremely close race in 2010 against Lexington attorney Andy Barr (R). Chandler faces a rematch, but in a better-performing district. He is now expected to comfortably win re-election.

“It’s good news the General Assembly reached an agreement on congressional redistricting without the involvement of the courts,” Chandler said in a statement. “As I’ve said in the past, redistricting is the responsibility of the Kentucky General Assembly, and this new map passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. I am eager to get to know all new constituents during the election and to represent them in my next term, and I will continue to work hard for residents of the 6th district for the remainder of my current term.”

Barr could not be reached for comment tonight. The voice mail box on his campaign’s number was full. But in an email to supporters Friday evening, he slammed the new map and Chandler.

“Today, Ben Chandler has turned his back on tens of thousands of his own constituents by cutting a backroom deal to get rid of them,” Barr wrote. “In consultation with his allies in the General Assembly, he has removed five counties from the Sixth District rather than face those voters in November. This brazen and desperate attempt to avoid accountability for supporting Barack Obama’s job killing agenda is exactly why the American people are so disillusioned with politics and career politicians.”

The other four incumbents running for re-election in the Bluegrass State should also easily win re-election. The open seat currently represented by Rep. Geoff Davis (R) is almost certain to stay on the GOP’s side of the ledger.