John Yarmuth (born November 4, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life, education and career
Yarmuth is a Louisville native who graduated from Atherton High School. He then graduated from Yale University, majoring in American Studies. After working for U.S. Senator Marlow Cook from 1971 to 1975, he returned to Louisville to begin his publishing career when he founded the Louisville Today magazine (1976–1982). He later worked as a vice-president of University Relations at the University of Louisville.
Prior to his election to Congress, Yarmuth was best known for founding the weekly paper, Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), in 1990 and for writing a progressive-oriented weekly political column that was featured on the first page of most issues. Yarmuth sold LEO in 2003 to a company owned by Times Publishing Company of Pennsylvania, owner of the Erie Times-News, though Yarmuth remained on board as a columnist and consultant until January 2006, when he declared he was running for Congress and his column was put on hold.
Yarmuth filed candidacy papers on January 31, 2006, to represent Kentucky's 3rd congressional district. Having won the Democratic primary on May 16, defeating Andrew Horne, Burrell Charles Farnsley and James W. Moore, he defeated incumbent Anne Northup (R) in November of that year.
On August 7, 2006, The Courier-Journal reported that The Hill revealed a week before that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had earmarked $51.5 million for television advertising in 32 congressional districts across the nation, but none for Yarmuth's challenge in the Third Congressional District.
On October 20, a Courier-Journal article stated that a WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll revealed the race had tightened dramatically, with Yarmuth leading Northup 48 to 47 percent. Another poll a month earlier had Northup leading by 6 points. A WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll released on November 2 showed Yarmuth leading Northup 52 to 44 percent.
On October 26, Yarmuth told Courier-Journal reporter Kay Stewart that he would donate his congressional salary—which would be $168,500 in 2007—to local charity.
Because polls close early in Kentucky, many analysts saw this race as a key indicator and it immediately became one of the most watched House races in the nation.
Yarmuth defeated Northup in the general election. He garnered 122,139 votes (51%) to Northup's 116,157 votes (48%). Independent candidates garnered 2,896 votes (1%).
Following his first year in Congress, Yarmuth donated his entire post-tax congressional salary of just over $120,000 to various charities in Louisville.
Yarmuth ran unopposed in the primary, and faced Anne Northup in a rematch the 2008 General Election.
On February 8, 2008, Yarmuth endorsed Barack Obama in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States.
On September 29, 2008, Yarmuth voted against the Paulson-Bernanke bailout plan, as negotiated by Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd. However, he did vote in favor of the second version of the bailout bill.
Yarmuth won the 2008 election with 59% of the vote.
After defeating Northup for the second time, Yarmuth was rewarded by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee with a spot on the influential Ways and Means Committee. On the committee, Yarmuth will be able to take up issues on which he actively campaigned prior to the 2008 general election.
Social Security, pension, Medicare, and Medicaid issues all fall under the jurisdicition of the Committee on Ways and Means.
Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Todd Lally and Independent Michael D. Hansen, but was reelected successfully.
In 2003, Yarmuth and former WHAS-AM radio talk show host John Ziegler debated political issues on the weekly WAVE program Yarmuth & Ziegler, with Yarmuth taking the liberal side and Ziegler, the conservative side. On a successor program, Hot Button, which ran from September 2004 to December 2005, he faced off with conservative Jim Milliman.
Yarmuth appeared on the March 8, 2007, episode of The Colbert Report in the show's "Better Know a District" series. In a parody of Yarmuth's former Yarmuth & Ziegler debate series, host Stephen Colbert prodded Yarmuth into a point/counterpoint style debate. After agreeing to the "debate," Colbert forced Yarmuth to defend the shredding of kittens in wood chippers, which Yarmuth gamely proceeded to do. Colbert referred to Yarmuth as a real life Bruce Wayne, & presented him with a framed print of his congressional photo with a Batman mask photoshopped over his face.
Yarmuth is married to Cathy Yarmuth. They have one son, Aaron, who is a graduate of Kentucky Country Day. He is Kentucky's first Jewish congressman. He has served on many boards including the Bingham Child Guidance Center and Kentucky Country Day School.
November 17th, 2011