U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., began his re-election campaign Monday by filing his paperwork with the secretary of state’s office. Elected to Congress in 2006, Yarmuth was part of a wave election that saw Republicans lose control of the House but Democratic control was lost in 2010. The party will need to recapture 25 seats to regain the majority and polling shows both parties have equal chances, with 45 percent want Democrats to win control of Congress while 43 percent want Republicans to maintain power.
Yarmuth says the Democrats can win back the House this fall and there chances are better because the public has seen how the GOP and Tea Party govern.
“The Republicans really do have a radical agenda and are willing to do reckless things in order to advance an ideological perspective. The tea party members on the Republican side are not going away. And you’re going to see a split in the Republican Party there, which might again highlight what I consider to be a very radical element in the Republican Party,” he says.
The three-term congressman will run on a premise that the federal government has a role in the country’s economic recovery, but will also address issues such as removing money from the political system. Last month, Yarmuth introduced a bill that establishes financial expenditures and in-kind contributions do not qualify as protected free speech under the First Amendment.
No Republican candidate has filed to challenge Yarmuth with the state, but Louisville accountant Brooks Wicker has announced he will run. Several top named Republicans such as former mayoral candidate Hal Heiner and gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett were rumored challengers, but neither have shown interest.
Former congressional candidate and Tea Party activist Larry Hausman says he isn’t running this year, but other GOP candidates are lining up to file.
“I believe I have recruited somebody to do it who I think will be absolutely fantastic. I won’t say who because I wouldn’t do anything to steal his thunder,” he says, adding a Republican has a chance at victory if they tie Yarmuth to the policies of President Obama.
The General Assembly is still working on redrawing Kentucky’s congressional districts and roadblocks are appearing to delay a compromise between the two chambers, which may explain the hesitance of candidates to declare.
There had been brief speculation that the Louisville Democrat was mulling retirement, however, being in the minority has reinvigorated Yarmuth to seek another term.
“As frustrating as it has been this last year in the minority, when you’re frustrated because of what I would consider poor behavior on the other side of the aisle, that’s the worst time to walk away. And I think the more extreme and radical and reckless that congressional Republicans get the more important it is for countervailing voices to be heard,” he says.