House Budget Chairman Yarmuth Says He Won’t Run for Re-Election
(Bloomberg) -- John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democratic representative and a top adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announced Tuesday he will not seek another House term in 2022.
“Truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long,” the House Budget Committee chairman explained in a video statement, calling his congressional service “an incredible journey” since his first campaign in 2006.
The announcement comes at a time when Democrats hold a slim 220-212 House majority going in to a mid-term election where the president’s party’s traditionally loses seats. Republicans seized on the announcement.
“Smart Democrats know their days in the majority are numbered, so they are retiring or seeking other offices,” Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said.
Yarmuth’s Louisville-area district strongly backed President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump by a 60%-38% margin but the state is in the process of redistricting which could change the political dynamics. Yarmuth easily defeated his Republican challenger with more than 62% of the vote.
In July, Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott, a Democrat, announced she would run for the congressional seat. Yarmuth, who is now 73, did not mention that potential primary challenge in his announcement.
Rather, Yarmuth said he wants to control more of his time with his grandson and the rest of his family as he approaches his 75th birthday at the end of this term.
Yarmuth acknowledged that while his decision now makes him a “lame duck,” he remains in a “pivotal position” guiding Biden’s economic agenda into reality, and that he will “continue to fight for Louisville in Washington for another 15 months.”
Amy Walter, publisher and editor-in-chief at the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, said in a tweet after Yarmuth’s announcement that “Dems always had this Louisville seat high on their target list but could never beat GOP Rep. Anne Northup” before Yarmuth won the seat.
“In ‘06, when that seat flipped early in the night to John Yarmuth, you knew it was a wave election,” she said.
Cook’s House editor David Wasserman added in his own tweet, “And since then, Louisville has veered left as KY has veered right.”
Pelosi praised Yarmuth, saying in a statement he “helped forge an America where more children have access to quality education, more families have access to affordable health care and more workers have access to the good-paying jobs of the 21st Century Economy.”
That includes “his tireless work to pass the historic American Rescue Plan,” said Pelosi, underscoring his key role in getting that pandemic-relief measure passed.
“When Chairman Yarmuth retires at the end of his term, the Congress will lose a greatly respected Member and our Caucus will lose a friend whose wise counsel, expertise, humor and warmth is cherished,” Pelosi said.
Yarmuth said in his statement that he knows he will regret his decision, but that he also knows it is the right one.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.