House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection after 15 years in Congress, opening a key seat in the Democratic stronghold of Louisville.
Yarmuth, the sole Democrat in Kentucky’s delegation, said he will step aside to spend more time with family. He will be 75 years old when his term ends in January 2023. He’s the fifth House Democrat to announce his retirement ahead of what is expected to be a brutal midterm election for the party.
As budget chair, the Kentucky Democrat has helped to shepherd key parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda through the House and has played a major role in the party’s latest priority: a multi-trillion-dollar social spending plan.
“The truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long,” Yarmuth said in a video posted on his Twitter account. “Candidly, I have found new and incomparable joy in spending time with my young grandson.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is next in line to be the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, but it’s unclear if he would assume that role. Jeffries is currently term limited in his position as caucus chair, but he could run for another position in leadership and forgo serving as top Democrat on the budget panel.
The retirement is especially notable because state Republicans in Frankfurt have been open about their plans to keep his Louisville district largely intact — rather than cracking it up to secure another GOP district.
His departure will open up a safe, blue seat in Louisville and provide an outlet for pent up Democratic ambition in the state.
Within minutes of Yarmuth’s announcement, Morgan McGarvey — the top Democrat in the Kentucky state legislature — declared that he would be jumping into the race. He had already drawn a primary challenger from the left, state Rep. Attica Scott.
Yarmuth joins a half-dozen other Democrats who have announced their retirement this cycle. That list includes Reps. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Five other members are leaving to seek other elected office.
“It’s just the right time for me. I want to have more control of whatever time I have left,” Yarmuth told POLITICO.