Louisville’s Congressional Race Is A Classic Catch-22

This feels a bit like dusting off some old boots. I’ve not written an op-ed in a long time, but Louisville, I have to be honest with you, you’re in for a wild ride in your next congressional race. I’m not going to really help you out with that decision, but I’m here to let you know, I get it. I understand. This won’t be an easy decision. You are getting two candidates that, for the most part, are beloved by the city and will do the work to bring Louisville the best they can from the federal level. It really couldn’t be a tougher situation.

Louisville’s congressional races are usually pretty easy to call. A bad Republican candidate tries to run against the popular Democratic candidate in the most liberal part of the state and then loses. This year, you’re being given a primary challenge for your current Democratic champion. 

John Yarmuth (who is LEO’s founder) has been in a primary race before, so that factor won’t be new, but a race between two popular public figures could provide for some interesting antics from both sides.

For Yarmuth, a couple of the previous primary contenders had issues with lack of name recognition and/or other more detrimental troubles. This year, state Rep. Attica Scott will be running against Congressman John Yarmuth. Scott is well known to Louisvillians as a popular and active part of the local civic landscape, as a progressive state politician and as a former Metro Council member. 

LEO confirmed that Yarmuth will be seeking reelection for the next term, and for that reason, this race presents a conundrum.  

In Scott, we have a candidate who found the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature refusing to move any of her bills out of committee. Scott, however, had a successful stint in Metro Council and would likely continue her progressive policy fights in the U.S. House. She would further aid in diversifying the makeup of the house as a Black woman. 

In Yarmuth, we also have a candidate whose votes have generally also fallen on the left side of most issues, although Yarmuth has not embraced a few of the looming progressive policies that Scott has, such as Abolish ICE and the Green New Deal. 

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Yarmuth’s advantage truly is his seniority and position in House leadership. He is the chair of the House Budget Committee, a member of the Committee on Education and Labor and on two subcommittees within that assignment. There are tangible benefits to both of these assignments for locals and Kentucky. 

The choice is difficult, and I can’t tell anyone in Louisville which way to go. I wish that I could walk that road with you, but because I moved across the bridge, my vote wouldn’t count. I have opinions, for sure, because this still affects me as a worker and daughter of the city. As it stands, I don’t know which side I’d fall on. I see advantages to both.  

Here’s what I can say, and what I hope to see from this race as it goes forward — since both candidates are worthy of the House seat, I hope that both are given real consideration from local Democratic voters. I hope that folks use the opportunity to truly weigh the differences based on facts and pick a candidate based on the issues that matter most to them and not because of popularity. 

Both are great. 

What I don’t want to see is a city where this primary becomes a series of attacks. Neither candidate should resort to mudslinging. This should be a contest where voters are given the facts and differences on policy. The argument should follow allowable rules of persuasion without falling into fallacious and nasty attacks.  

I don’t want to see either tear the other down. That would be more heartbreaking than inspiring, and, in a year that Democrats really need to be united and move this nation forward, our races at home should help inspire us to fight fairly with each other and maintain a united front against the real enemies.

May the best candidate win and may the race be a model for others to build a strong progressive coalition instead of seeking and destroying for the sake of a win.

About the Author

Louisville’s Congressional Race Is A Classic Catch-22

Erica Rucker is LEO Weekly’s Arts & Entertainment Editor. In addition to her work at LEO, she is a haphazard writer,  photographer, tarot card reader, and fair to middling purveyor of motherhood. Her earliest memories are of telling stories to her family and promising that the next would be shorter than the first. They never were. You can follow Erica on Twitter, but beware of honesty, overt blackness and occasional geeky outrage.

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