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John Yarmuth

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Title: John Yarmuth  
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Subject: Kentucky's 3rd congressional district, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Andy Barr (U.S. politician), United States House of Representatives elections in Kentucky, 2008
Collection: 1947 Births, American Magazine Founders, American Magazine Publishers (People), American Newspaper Founders, American Newspaper Publishers (People), American People of Austrian-Jewish Descent, American People of Russian-Jewish Descent, Atherton High School Alumni, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Jewish Members of the United States House of Representatives, Kentucky Democrats, Living People, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky, Politicians from Louisville, Kentucky, Yale University Alumni
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John Yarmuth

John Yarmuth
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Anne Northup
Personal details
Born John Allan Yarmuth
(1947-11-04) November 4, 1947
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political party Republican (Before 1985)
Democratic (1985–present)
Spouse(s) Catherine Yarmuth
Children Aaron
Alma mater Yale University
Religion Judaism

John Allan Yarmuth (born November 4, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district (which is effectively the city of Louisville) and has been since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party and a former member of the Republican Party.


  • Early life, education and career 1
  • Publisher and columnist 2
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
    • Tenure 3.1
    • Committee assignments 3.2
    • Party Leadership 3.3
  • Political campaigns 4
    • 2006 4.1
    • 2008 4.2
    • 2010 4.3
    • 2012 4.4
    • 2014 4.5
  • Television 5
  • Personal life 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life, education and career

Yarmuth was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Edna E. (née Klein) and Stanley R. Yarmuth. He is descended from Jewish immigrants from Russia and Austria.[1] He graduated from Atherton High School.[2] He graduated from Yale University, majoring in American Studies.[2]

He worked for Republican U.S. Senator Marlow Cook from 1971 to 1975, then returned to Louisville and launched his publishing career by founding the Louisville Today magazine, which operated from 1976 to 1982. He later worked as a vice-president of University Relations at the University of Louisville.[2]

Publisher and columnist

In 1990, Yarmuth founded the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), a weekly newspaper for which he wrote a generally progressive political column that was usually featured on the first page. In 2003, Yarmuth sold LEO to a company owned by Times Publishing Company of Pennsylvania, owner of the Erie Times-News. Yarmuth remained on board as a columnist and consultant until January 2006, when he put his column on hiatus to run for Congress.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives


Yarmuth took office on January 3, 2007. As of 2014, he is serving his fourth term as Congressman.

After his first year in Congress, Yarmuth donated his post-tax congressional salary of just over $120,000 to various charities in Louisville.[3]

On February 8, 2008, Yarmuth endorsed Barack Obama in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.[4]

On September 29, 2008, Yarmuth voted against the TARP bailout plan, as negotiated by Democrats House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.[5] However, he did vote in favor of the second version of the bailout bill.[6]

Yarmuth said he was so "nauseated" by a moment of silence for Michael Jackson on the House floor that he left the chamber. "I thought it was outrageous," he said. "In my two and a half years, we've not done this for anybody else. We've done it for former members and that's about it."[7]

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 worked on issues on which he campaigned before the 2008 general election: Social Security, pension, Medicare, and Medicaid issues.

At a September 2009 town hall meeting, constituents were unhappy with Yarmuth's decision to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "Yarmuth stayed calm in the face of boos and catcalls from some in the audience" according to an Associated Press report. "He warned that the current health care system is an unsustainable drain on businesses and the nation's economy."[8]

In 2011, Yarmuth introduced a bill alongside Republican Congressman Walter Jones that would seek to overturn key parts of the controversial court case Citizens United v. FEC. The legislation would also give Congress the power to enact mandatory public financing for Congressional candidates and create a national holiday for voting purposes.[9]

In 2011, Yarmuth voted against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 due to a controversial provision which allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[10][11]

Committee assignments

Party Leadership

  • Regional Whip

Political campaigns


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.[12]

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.[13] A WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll released on show of November 2ed Yarmuth leading Northup 52 to 44 percent.[14]

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.[15]

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%).


Yarmuth ran unopposed in the primary, and faced Anne Northup in a rematch of the 2006 general election.[16][17][18]

Yarmuth won the 2008 election with 59% of the vote.[19]


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Todd Lally and Independent Michael D. Hansen. Yarmuth was re-elected successfully.[20]


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Brooks Wicker and was re-elected successfully.


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Michael McFarlane and was re-elected successfully. Yarmuth won 63.5% of the votes cast.


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, and presented him with a framed print of his congressional photo with a Batman mask photoshopped over his face.[21]

Personal life

Yarmuth has served on many boards including the Bingham Child Guidance Center and Kentucky Country Day School. He is Kentucky's first Jewish congressman. Yarmuth and his wife, Cathy Yarmuth, have one son, Aaron, who is a graduate of Kentucky Country Day.


  1. ^ "yarmuth". Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Official House Biography Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  3. ^ Yarmuth For Congress » Campaign Blog » Yarmuth Donates 2007 Congressional Salary to Louisville Non-Profit Organizations at the Wayback Machine (archived April 12, 2008)
  4. ^ Carroll, James (February 8, 2008). "Yarmuth endorses Obama".  
  5. ^ Abdullah, Halimah (September 29, 2008). "Four Congressmen vote No".  
  6. ^ "Yarmuth Thinks Bailout Bill Stinks, Votes For It Anyway".  
  7. ^ Petchenik, Mike. "Yarmuth 'Nauseated' By Jackson Tribute". Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Yarmuth faces boisterous town hall meeting". WBKO. 
  9. ^ Phillip M. Bailey (December 20, 2011). "Yarmuth Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Case". Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ "NDAA Bill: How Did Your Congress Member Vote?". December 16, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ ] National Defense Authorization Act"sic"House Vote 291 - Passes the the [. Inside Congress. New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  12. ^ Stewart, Kay (August 7, 2006). "National Democratic campaign doesn't plan ads for Yarmuth".  
  13. ^ Stewart, Kay (October 20, 2006). "Poll: Northup, Yarmuth race in dead heat".  
  14. ^ Hebert, Mark (November 2, 2006). "Yarmuth ahead in new poll". Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2006. 
  15. ^ Stewart, Kay (October 26, 2006). "Northup attacks Yarmuth's Wealth -- Hypocrisy?".  
  16. ^ Gerth, Joe (January 16, 2008). "Roberts probably out, Northup considers return".  
  17. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (January 28, 2008). "Northup to run to regain former congressional seat, adviser says". Associated Press. 
  18. ^ "Northup Files To Run For Old Congressional Seat". (Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc.). January 28, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2009. 
  19. ^ "2008 General Election Results". CNN. November 5, 2008. 
  20. ^ "John Yarmuth wins Kentucky 3rd District".  
  21. ^ Carroll, James R. (March 9, 2007). "'"Yarmuth jokes on the 'Colbert Report.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Anne Northup
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 3rd congressional district

January 3, 2007 – present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Peter Welch
Current seniority in the United States Representatives
Succeeded by
Niki Tsongas
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