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GOP candidates link Yarmuth to Pelosi

by Joe Arnold


Posted on March 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 16 at 6:07 PM

Which Republican do you support in the Republican Primary in Kentucky’s Third Congressional District?

With an anti-incumbent fever sweeping the country, is Louisville's Congressman John Yarmuth (D) at risk of losing his job?

We've heard a lot about this being a risky year for congressional Ddemocrats, but have you heard of any of the Republicans gunning to replace Yarmuth?

All four are sounding the same theme - that John Yarmuth's agenda is far more liberal than the voters of Kentucky's Third Congressional District,  which basically is Louisville.  A WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll of Louisville's registered voters finds about an even split between those solidly for and against Yarmuth.

 3rd Congressional District

1979 Registered Voters

For Yarmuth          27%

Against Yarmuth  23%

Depends on Ballot  48%

Margin of Sampling Error +/- 2.2%

But the biggest number  is the 48 percent who say it all depends which of five Republican candidates faces Yarmuth in the fall.

Click on each candidates name to link to the respective campaign website:

W. Jerry Durbin (no website available)

Larry Hausman

Todd Lally

Jeff Reetz

Brooks Wicker

The Republicans have nothing but praise for Yarmuth as a man, but not as a Congressman.

"John Yarmuth is a great guy," said  Brooks Wicker, a CPA and financial advisor in the GOP primary.

"I'm not saying John Yarmuth's not a nice guy, I believe he is," said GOP candidate Larry Hausman when he entered the race. 

In fact, every Republican trying to unseat Democrat John Yarmuth says he's a nice guy but not the right guy for Louisville.

"He votes in lock step with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the far left," Hausman said to a booing crowd, "not for his Louisville constituents."

Hausman is a real estate investor and financial advisor. The Republicans see Yarmuth's re-election in 2008 as riding on the coat tails of Barack Obama, and Yarmuth's narrow victory over Anne Northup four years ago as an anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war vote.

"So it wasn't a mandate by this community that John Yarmuth is the guy we want to send," said candidate Todd Lally, "it's just that year is the year they picked him."

Lally is a combat veteran, a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard and a UPS pilot.

"Why did you challenge Humana with this health care thing," Lally asked rhetorically of Yarmuth, "It's one of our largest employers. Where are you coming from with these things?  Is it more your agenda and Nancy Pelosi's agenda, or are you really looking out for the constituents in Louisville?"

A new billboard sponsored by the American Small Business Partnership, a group of about 100 Louisville business owners and managers, pictures Yarmuth side by side with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the same way the Republicans see him.  The billboard proclaims: "Congressman Yarmuth.  This is Louisville, Ky, Start Voting LIke it"

In annual vote rankings tracked by the National Journal, Yarmuth is ranked the 124th most liberal and the 305th most conservative Member of Congress.

"I think it's going to be a difficult year for everybody who's running," Yarmuth said, "I think the electorate is much more demanding this year.  I think they are going to be much more circumspect in their judgement."

Yarmuth acknowledges his progresssive agenda,  makes no apologies, and acknowledges it's a tough climate nationally for liberal politicians.

"There is a very strong populist fever in this country," Yarmuth said in a recent interview, "and I think the policies that I stand for, are populist policies.  That's why I got into this race to begin with three years ago."

Pizza Hut franchisee Jeff Reetz, who begins his television ads for the House seat this week, argues that Yarmuth's positions are far afield from his constituents.

"The three things that seem to be real important to people here in Louisville are jobs, the economy and the debt.
John's working on things like health care, cap and trade and card check," Reetz said.

Reetz owns 30 Pizza Hut restaurants in four states wth about 700 employees.

"I think this race will become nationalized simply because Jon is one of the nine Pelosi insiders," Reetz added.

"I probably will have to work a little harder to convince voters," Yarmuth said, "But again, I think overall I get nothing but positive reenforcement when I'm around the community."

Yet, for candidates like Brooks Wicker, Yarmuth symbolizes what's wrong with Washington.

"The government doesn't create wealth, the government destroys it." Wicker said. "The economic crisis that we've had, has awakened a lot of interest in what government's role and responsiblity is in this country and looking for some different people to carry it out."