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McGarvey set to be Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress


Morgan McGarvey will replace longtime U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth as Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress and says he wants to use his experience to work across the aisle in Washington, D.C..

The outgoing minority leader of the Kentucky Senate will once again be in the minority party after Republicans won narrow control of the House this year.

Yarmuth is not seeking reelection to the seat, which he has held since 2006. This year’s race was the first open election for the Louisville-area 3rd Congressional District since 1994.

As the state Senate’s Democratic leader, McGarvey has touted his experience working with Republicans, which he says he can do without forsaking his party’s values. 

“I think there are ways that when we listen to each other, we can get things done. That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be hiccups along the way, I’m a realist as well. If we can continue to listen to each other, then we can get some big things done, even though there are times right now where it certainly seems like a divisive period,” he said. 

McGarvey authored 18 bills in his ten years as a state lawmaker. He said he has faith he can bring those lessons on building consensus from his time in the Kentucky Senate to Washington, even during a divisive period.

He says he’ll join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which focuses on progressive policies that include immigration reform, universal health care, and climate action. 

Progressives deepened their bench during this year’s midterm elections, and hope to use better-than-expected results to pressure President Joe Biden on priorities like climate, student debt and cannabis.

As a Progressive Caucus member, McGarvey said disagreeing with his Democratic colleagues is bound to happen, but said focusing debates on policies is key to ensuring consensus. 

“Whenever you have a disagreement over policy, make sure you’re talking about the actual policy, realistically and factually. If you disagree on the best way to solve it, you leave it at that and work with somebody on the next problem that comes up,” he said.

McGarvey will be sworn in to office on Jan. 3.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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