FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The United Mine Workers of America union rushed to the defense of U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler on Monday after an attack ad portrayed him as an enemy of the coal industry.
UMWA Regional Vice President Steve Earle said Chandler, who is seeking re-election in Kentucky's 6th District, has always been a friend to miners and an advocate for more stringent laws to protect their safety.
Chandler's Republican opponent, Lexington attorney Andy Barr, is running a TV spot ahead of the Nov. 6 election that blames Chandler, President Barack Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for "devastating" the coal industry. The ad has coal executive Heath Lovell dressed in miner's garb and a hardhat making that claim.
"Chandler hadn't done anything to hurt the coal industry," Earle said. "He's tried to make these mines safer where these women will have a husband and these kids will have a father at the end of a shift every evening. And for Andy Barr to pull a stunt like this, it's unconscionable. It's deceitful. It's evil. It's sinful."
The UMWA endorsed Chandler, a former Kentucky attorney general who has held the congressional seat for the past eight years.
In the ad, Lovell laments that coal trains have nearly stopped running in the tiny Estill County town of Ravenna.
"They're putting the coal industry out of business, and it's just devastating," Lovell said. "This is our way of life, and it means jobs for people around here. Good paying jobs. And Ben Chandler, he doesn't even care."