Barr, McGrath talk issues and political divide during special 'Kentucky Newsmakers'

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Even though they didn't debate face to face, Republican Rep. Andy Barr and Democratic challenger Ret. Lt. Col. Amy McGrath used their time on a special edition of WKYT's "Kentucky Newsmakers with Bill Bryant" to explain the divide between their two campaigns.

Republican Rep. Andy Barr and Democrat Ret. Lt. Col. Amy McGrath talk with WKYT's Bill Bryant during "Kentucky Newsmakers"

"Let's be clear when my opponent says that sensible border security is a ninth century solution to a 21st-century problem. She doesn't know what she's talking about because she hasn't obviously understood what it was that we were voting for," Barr said when asked by Bryant about immigration during the special program.

"You know I haven't been a proponent of a physical wall. I do think that it's a waste of money," McGrath said. "I went down to the border, and I talked to folks on both sides of the border. I talked to border patrol and ICE agents, and even they agree that a border wall is not really going to be effective and is kind of a waste of money."

In their own words without interruptions, the two leading candidates in the sixth congressional district discussed where they stand on key issues, what they hope to accomplish in Washington, and why they deserve your vote.

"You get to hear the candidates unedited and without them interrupting each other. So you get a pretty clear picture of where they stand on things," said Bryant, host of the WKYT public affairs program since 1986.

While discussing topics ranging from healthcare, the opioid epidemic, recent hate crimes, and the coal industry, Barr referred to McGrath nine times while she referenced Barr five times.

"The biggest thing I think we need right now in our country are leaders who put our country first and believe that our country is more important than their political party," McGrath said when asked why voters should vote for her over her opponents.

"Maybe it's just that we have a different definition of country over party," Barr replied when asked the same question. "For me, country over party is what we've been doing: bi-partisan work. [It] doesn't matter if it's Republican or Democrat. If it's a good idea, I'm for it."

Barr, who easily won re-election two years ago, is chairman of the House Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee. Barr was first elected in 2012 when he ousted Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler.

Former fighter pilot and first-time candidate McGrath says her military service would help her "cut through" the political discord dividing Washington if elected.

The district has flip-flopped between the two major political parties since the 1970s.

"It's a very competitive race," Bryant said. "This district always had the potential to be competitive because of registration and the fact that it has been represented by Democrats and Republicans over the years."

The sixth district includes Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Fleming Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Madison, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Scott, Wolfe, and Woodford counties.

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