LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -- Republican Andy Barr has defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who was unable to overcome a burdensome drag from the top of the ballot.
Barr made the 6th District race about President Barack Obama, an unpopular political figure in Kentucky, painting Chandler as his surrogate.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Barr had 151,136 votes or 51 percent, to 139,907 votes for Chandler or 47 percent. Independent candidate Randolph Vance had 8,218 votes or 3 percent.
Chandler, in his concession speech, said he was proud of his years serving Kentucky in Congress. He spent eight years in the U.S. House after being first elected to the seat in 2003. Republican Ernie Fletcher vacated the office after beating Chandler in a gubernatorial race.
"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude tonight because the people of Kentucky have allowed me to serve them as their state auditor, as their attorney general and almost nine years in the United States Congress. Over 20 years of public service. Don't know whether its over or not...we'll see," said Chandler.
Not long after Chandler conceded the race to is opponent, Barr took the stage to celebrate his victory.
"People from all different walks of like are united under our banner and committed their time, resources and most of all their hearts to our cause. A cause much greater than my candidacy. A cause to save our country from bankruptcy and to restore the American dream," said Barr.
Chandler ran with what one political scientist described as an "Obama albatross" around his neck. Obama yielded the state to GOP nominee Mitt Romney after a poor showing in the Democratic primary. Some 42 percent of Kentucky Democrats marked their ballots "uncommitted" even though Obama was the only name on the ballot.
The Chandler-Barr matchup has been Kentucky's most high-profile race, with around-the-clock TV ads in the Lexington area. Five other congressional races are on the ballot, though none are considered competitive.
The central Kentucky district contains the cities of Lexington, Richmond, Georgetown, Nicholasville, and Frankfort.