A Democratic congressman from Kentucky backed down Tuesday from his threat to run against Mitch McConnell – and admitted he was just joking -- after the Senate majority leader called his bluff and agreed to his demand for five debates.
On Monday, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., was asked by a local news reporter from WHAS-TV if he planned on running against the Republican leader in 2020. Yarmuth initially said he had “no desire” to do so, but then smiled and said: “I will say this: If Mitch McConnell would agree to debate me five times in public, I’d do it.”
Yarmuth may not have expected the response.
“Accepted. When is the announcement? - MM,” McConnell said Tuesday morning through his campaign’s Team Mitch Twitter account. The post retweeted a local news article that included Yarmuth’s suggestion.
Yarmuth’s office, though, responded by making it clear that the congressman has no intention of running against McConnell.
“Obviously the congressman was making a joke about Senator McConnell’s long record of refusing to meet with anyone except donors and special interests writing him checks,” Yarmuth’s communications director Christopher Schuler told Fox News.
Schuler added: “He does hope that the senator is serious about debating his opponent next year though. Kentuckians deserve to hear him defend his actions, and lack thereof, that have been so destructive to our commonwealth and country.”
There are already multiple Democrats vying for the opportunity to challenge McConnell. Retired Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath announced her candidacy in July, claiming, “Everything that’s wrong with Washington” started with McConnell. Kentucky sports talk radio host Matt Jones has also reportedly formed an exploratory committee for a possible campaign.
Meanwhile, McConnell is also facing a Republican primary challenge from former state representative Wesley Morgan.