After more than 15 years in Congress, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term in 2023, but the seat will likely remain in Democratic hands.
Yarmuth, who turns 74 in November and serves as chair of the House Budget Committee, announced his retirement in a video shared to Twitter on Tuesday.
“At the time, I simply wanted to stop the Bush agenda by helping flip control of the House of Representatives to Democrats,” Yarmuth said in the video about his coming to Congress in 2006.
Yarmuth’s announcement comes as Democrats struggle to hold on to their slim majority in the House and as several other party members have also recently announced plans to retire.
But while both Democrats and Republicans in the state have expressed interest in running for the seat currently held by Yarmuth, it is likely to remain a stronghold for the left. The area is a Democrat-leaning urban district that includes most of the Louisville metro area, and state Republicans said they have no intention of splitting it into three portions for fear that the move would benefit Democrats.
Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation, which includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, mostly opposes a split. According to Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., McConnell, who resides in Louisville, believes the city is “its own entity” and deserves to have its own member of Congress.
Moments after the announcement from Yarmuth, Morgan McGarvey, Kentucky’s top Democrat in the state legislature, announced he would be jumping into the race alongside others, including state Rep. Attica Scott.
Scott, a progressive in the state House, entered the race in July, creating a challenge to Yarmuth prior to his announcement. As reported by Louisville’s Courier Journal, Scott has called for the decriminalizing marijuana, ending qualified immunity from civil lawsuits for police officers and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Kentucky’s Republican Party suggested Yarmuth was retiring because he would soon be in the minority.
“Chairman Yarmuth’s announcement shows Democrats realize their chances of maintaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives are slim to none,” said Mac Brown, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky. “We look forward to doing our part to helping retire Nancy Pelosi as speaker in 2022.”
According to the congressman, his retirement will be spent with his family, and he added that his final 15 months in office will be spent trying to pass the American Rescue Plan.
“After every election, I was asked how long I intended to serve, and I never had an answer. Today, I do. This term will be my last,” Yarmuth said.
Other congressional Democrats who plan to retire soon include Reps. Filemon Vela of Texas, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.