Three Republicans Vying For 3rd District Congressional Seat

by Rick Howlett on May 19, 2008

Republican voters in Kentucky’s Third Congressional District will choose a nominee on Tuesday, May 20 to challenge Democratric incumbent Congressman John Yarmuth in the November general election.

Three GOP candidates are vying to represent the House district that includes Louisville, among them the person who held the seat for ten straight years.

The three hopefuls have debated just once during the primary campaign. Former Congresswoman Anne Northup, Louisville developer Chris Thieneman and UPS employee Bob DeVore, Junior squared off last month on Kentucky Educational Television. A fourth candidate, Corley Everett, has since announced he would withdraw from the race and throw his support to Thieneman.

Northup served five terms in the House before she was unseated by Democrat John Yarmuth in 2006. She then lost the Republican primary for governor last year. Northup says she was swept out Congress in the anti-Iraq war tidal wave that allowed Democrats to reclaim a Capitol Hill majority, but believes voters in both parties are ready to sent her back to Washington.

“What the people have said to me all over the community is, we need leadership, we need strong leadership, we need somebody who will be an alternative voice that isn’t just on the same team as whoever else is in leadership, and will help us bring fresh eyes and fresh money and fresh opportunities. I think I can accomplish that and I think I have a good chance,” Northup said, adding that she would take the lead in seeking more federal funds for the Ohio River Bridges Project if she regains the seat.

Chris Thieneman’s political profile rose last year, when he led the opposition to the unsuccessful effort to raise Jefferson County’s occupational tax to fund library improvements. He threatened to leave the Republican Party and support Yarmuth earlier this year, saying he was pressured by party leadership to withdraw from the race and support Northup.

He now says he wants to claim the seat, partly in response to the nation’s mortgage crisis.

“As a developer and homebuilder, we basically have shut down the doors, it’s so hard to find buyers that can get the credit to buy the homes and to build new homes when the old homes are sitting empty, ” Thineman said. “It’s a scary time.”

Thieneman says he also would work to help the millions of Americans without health insurance get coverage.

Bob DeVore, Junior says he wants to serve in Congress on behalf of the district’s blue-collar workers, and he wants the government to be more fiscally responsible.

“I mean, where do we draw the line? The line is this: I believe we can do this as a conservative folks, and find conservative
ways, and stick with what we believe in, and that is individual prosperity,” DeVore said.

A Survey USA poll conducted last month gives Northup a huge lead in the race, with 79% of the vote, followed by Thieneman and DeVore.

Retired University of Louisville political science professor Phil Laemmle says Northup should easily win the GOP nomination, but she’ll have a tougher time in her rematch with Yarmuth, who, like Northup, is well funded and could be bolstered by a high turnout in November.

“Particularly if Obama is the nominee,” Laemmle said. “In this district in Kentucky, he’ll attract young voters and he’ll attract African-American voters, which would make up for any, I think, defections.”

Incumbent John Yarmuth is unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Third District seat.

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