Kentucky 6th District
With its white picket fences, horse farms and small towns, the rolling plateau of Bluegrass in central Kentucky is the part of interior America longest settled by English speakers: Lexington was founded in 1775; the town of Hopewell was renamed Paris in 1789 out of gratitude for French help during the American Revolution and in a salute to the French Revolution (though the county name remained Bourbon even after Louis XVI was guillotined). Tobacco farming started here in the 1770s, horse racing in 1787, and the first whiskey distillery, in Bourbon County, was built in 1790. Tobacco, whiskey and racehorses remained the staples of the Bluegrass economy for six generations, until 1956, when IBM built its typewriter plant in Lexington. IBM’s arrival “really was the beginning of Lexington’s industrial revolution,” as University of Kentucky historian Carl Cone put it. But capitalism, as economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote, is a process of creative destruction. The personal computer eventually outclassed the typewriter, and the IBM plant was put on the block. The big employer here became Lexmark International, an independent IBM spinoff that makes inkjet and laser printers. Another mainstay is the Toyota plant built in the 1980s in Georgetown, a town with early-19th-century houses and lush countryside just one county north of Lexington. The plant can produce 500,000 cars annually, including the new Camry hybrid, and Toyota’s $5.5 billion worth of investment has attracted auto-parts suppliers to the Georgetown area. Valvoline is among the companies that have done well locally. Lexington, which includes all of Fayette County, grew by a sprightly 24% between 1990 and 2007, and the 2000 census showed it to be the largest city in Kentucky, just ahead of Louisville. But Louisville voters decided to merge their city and Jefferson County, and in 2003, Louisville became the largest city-county again. Lexington is the host of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District of Kentucky includes Lexington and the surrounding counties—a natural unit, unlike some other Kentucky districts. Lexington casts 40% of the votes. It was the home base of the Whig Party’s great leader Henry Clay, but in the first 140 years after his death, the Bluegrass country was mostly Democratic. In the 1990s, the area became more Republican, and George W. Bush carried the district in 2000 and 2004. John McCain won the district in 2008, 55% to 43%.