Ben Chandler

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Ben Chandler
U.S. Representative – KY-06
Image:Rep. Ben Chandler.jpg
Party Democratic
Assumed office

February 17, 2004

Preceded by Ernie Fletcher
Born September 12, 1959
Spouse Jennifer Chandler
Religion Presbyterian

Congressman Ben Chandler (September 12, 1959) represents the 6th Congressional District of Kentucky.


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When you're the first Democrat since 1991 to win a special election on a formerly Republican seat, and you win in one of the reddest states in the nation, you must have more than luck on your side. Ben Chandler certainly does. Freshmen Ben Chandler comes from a Kentucky political dynasty. His grandfather, AB "Happy" Chandler, was a popular governor, US senator, and baseball commissioner. Ben has carved out an interesting path all his own.

Born on September 12th, in 1959, Chandler was elected in 1995 as the youngest Attorney General in the nation, and with the highest victory margin (20%) in the state. He ran unopposed in 1999. He also served a 4-year term as State Auditor. When popular Democratic governor Paul Patton was mired in various personal and professional scandals, Chandler investigated the various charges to the fullest extent of the law, bristling some party members who felt he was being disloyal. After a noisy primary from which he emerged the victor, the state Democratic party limped into the 2003 governor's race shellshocked and deeply divided. Running against Ernie Fletcher, an energetic, well-funded Republican with a history of winning in a Democratic-leaning district, Chandler lost by 10 points.

The defeat made Chandler ponder taking a break from politics, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi convinced him to run for the special election on Fletcher's seat. Some whispered that Chandler's future prospects had been severely tarnished by such a high-profile loss, and that his decision was nothing short of political suicide. Kentucky Republicans licked their chops at the prospect of defeating him all over again and showing voters who ruled the state. Chandler emphasized local issues and ran as an independent voice for an increasingly polarized Congress. He was also one of the first candidates to harness Howard Dean and Joe Trippi's use of the Internet blogosphere for financial support and foot soldiers. Ben ran against a meek Sunday school teacher and state senator, Alice Forgy Kerr, who had the full backing of the state Republican powerhouse, Senator Mitch McConnell. She even used her own version of ads McConnell had once unleashed on his opponents. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert flew into the state and badgered tobacco farmers that if they didn't vote for Kerr, they might not get a buyout they desperately needed. Kerr incessantly pointed out to the public that Kentucky was a Republican state and that she was "cut from the same cloth" as President Bush.

Yet, as the campaign wore on, Kerr's negatives rose, while Chandler stuck to his guns. His lead increased, and come Election Day, he hit the irony motherlode -- not only did he win Fletcher's old seat, he beat Kerr by the same or possibly higher margin that Fletcher had beaten him! Kerr was so demoralized that she dropped out of the November rematch. The opponent Chandler will face, Tom Buford, won in a May primary where barely 10% of registered Republicans showed up. Kerr, who'd dropped out in March, received more votes than he did. And he cannot even adequately deny allegations that he donated money to the Chandler campaign in February.

Ben arrived in Washington as something of a celebrity. He was given spots on a number of high-profile committees and had earned the admiration of every representative of his party. He'd given embattled House Democrats something they had not experienced in a long time -- hope.


Caucuses and Affiliations

  • Blue Dog Coalition
  • Co-Chair Congressional Horse Caucus
  • House New Democrat Coalition
  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Congressional Bike Caucus
  • Democratic Israel Working Group
  • Congressional Fire Services Caucus
  • Democratic Study Group on National Security
  • Congressional Diabetes Caucus
  • Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus
  • Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus
  • Congressional Rural Caucus
  • Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus
  • Congressional Fitness Caucus
  • National Guard and Reserve Component Caucus
  • Bipartisan Nursing Caucus
  • House Rural Health Care Coalition
  • Congressional Mental Health Caucus
  • Congressional Fatherhood Caucus
  • House Reading Caucus
  • Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus
  • Appalachian Caucus
  • 4-H Caucus
  • Congressional Humanities Caucus
  • Law Enforcement Caucus
  • House Rural Health Care Coalition
  • US-Israel Security Caucus
  • Congressional Humanities Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Congressional Task Force


Washington DC Office
1504 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4706

Kentucky Office
1021 Majestic Drive
Suite 180
Lexington, KY 40513
Phone: (859) 219-1366

GovTrack link

External Links

  • Ben Chandler's Official Site
  • House Democrats page
  • Campaign website

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