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Only US House seat held by Kentucky Democrats up for grabs

John Yarmuth's retirement has put the Commonwealth's most competitive House seat up for grabs.
Credit: WHAS11 News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The retirement of Kentucky's only Democrat in Congress put the state's most competitive House seat up for grabs Tuesday, pitting Democratic state senator Morgan McGarvey against Republican businessman Stuart Ray.

John Yarmuth served eight terms in the Louisville-area 3rd District and endorsed McGarvey, the state Senate minority leader, in Tuesday's general election.

Ray, a former state Fish and Wildlife commissioner, narrowly won the GOP primary to face McGarvey and sought to capitalize on a national political climate favoring Republicans.

The 3rd District has been a Democratic stronghold for more than a decade. President Joe Biden won Louisville, one of the state's most diverse areas, with about 59% of the vote in the 2020 presidential race.

Ray has pledged to cut spending and bring more economic development to Kentucky's largest city. He has repeatedly criticized Democrats' efforts to curb inflation.

McGarvey, a lawyer, campaigned in support of universal government healthcare, legalizing marijuana and expanding renewable energy to combat climate change. He has been critical of Ray's support of an abortion ban in Kentucky and said the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol was a "terrorist insurrection."

Ray said he opposes gun control laws, supports charter schools and thought the border wall begun by former President Donald Trump should be completed.

The 3rd District remained intact under the GOP's redistricting plan and is far more diverse than other areas of Kentucky. It covers most of Kentucky's Jefferson County, where white residents make up nearly two-thirds of the district's population and Black residents account for about 20%, according to census figures.

Republican incumbents are expected to maintain their firm grip on the state's five other congressional districts. U.S. Reps. James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers and Andy Barr all have built-in advantages over Democratic challengers in a state that has turned increasingly Republican in recent years.

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