Although Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler (above) beat Republican attorney Andy Barr by fewer than 700 votes in 2010, Kentuckys redistricting process looks as if it will benefit incumbents.
In Democratic strongholds such as Franklin County — home of the state’s capital, Frankfort — thousands of Democratic-inclined voters appear not to have shown up in 2010. There were about 4,700 fewer people in Franklin County who voted in the 6th district race in 2010 than in 2008. Most of them appear to have been voters who went with Chandler in 2008. The Congressman received 11,700 votes in the county last cycle, while he picked up 17,700 in 2008.
But Barr slapped down the idea that higher Democratic turnout might hurt him.
“It’s just simply not true I’m at a greater disadvantage in 2012,” Barr said. “Barack Obama lost Franklin County in 2008. Barack Obama lost Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district by 12 percentage points at the height of his popularity. The fact that Ben Chandler is going to have to run with the president in 2012 is a huge disadvantage for him.”
Barr is, of course, correct that the president will be a political burden for the incumbent. But if the bent of the GOP-leaning district grows more Democratic and Democrats who sat out 2010 come to the polls next November, Barr has a steep hill to climb.
“Of course challengers are underdogs,” Barr told Roll Call. “But the reality is this is a rematch of the third-closest Congressional race in America.
“We’ve demonstrated that there is considerable dissatisfaction with this incumbent in this Congressional district, and no amount of incumbent-protection redistricting is going to alter that fact,” he said.
Roll Call currently rates the race Leans Democratic.