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Kentucky's lone congressional Democrat is out in 2022

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Kentucky’s political landscape shifted Tuesday, as the state's only Democratic representative on Capitol Hill took himself out of the running for re-election next year. The move gives Louisville voters an opening to decide which wing of the party Kentucky’s 3rd District should follow.

"The truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long," Rep. John Yarmuth explains at the start of a brief video announcing his retirement from Washington politics. Citing his age – the veteran lawmaker will be 75 by the end of his current term – and the physical demands of the job, Yarmuth said it's time to shift his focus to family. 

The congressman, who calls the passage of the American Rescue Plan his "proudest moment," then urges listeners to immediate direct their energy to making sure that Kentucky's next 3rd District representative reflects the "values that we have fought for together for the last 15 years."

Yarmuth's exit creates lots of new questions for Democrats, who dominate the district.

Two big names are already in the race: Rep. Attica Scott, a progressive voice who became a candidate for the seat in June, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, an established party leader who jumped in the race just minutes after Yarmuth’s announcement.

The incumbent’s departure also takes the Kentucky Democrat out of the powerful House Budget chairman seat.

The National Republican Congressional Committee took the news as a sign Democrats aren’t bullish about their chances for holding on to the House in the midterms. A spokesman for the group said Democrats “know their days in the majority are numbered.”

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.