Congressman Ed Whitfield announces he will not run for re-election in 2016

09/29/2015 03:53 PM

Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield, subject of a House ethics probe, announced on Tuesday that he will not run for a 12th term next year.

Whitfield told Pure Politics in August that he planned to seek re-election, but in a statement released through his office, he offered no reason for his decision.

“Representing the people of the 1st District for 21 years has been an honor,” he said in a statement. “I will cherish forever the countless opportunities to work with them to nurture and strengthen the 35 counties comprising Kentucky’s First District.”

The Hopkinsville Republican also included a list of his top achievements, such as helping establish the Federal Health Benefit Program for employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, securing funding for troops at Fort Campbell, promoting the use of fossil fuels and ensuring animals are treated humanely.

That last point references a central focus of the House Ethics Committee investigation launched in March, which is looking into whether Whitfield improperly aided his wife Connie Harriman-Whitfield, a lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in her work.

The couple has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

Whitfield’s exit opens the door for a new face in Congress. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, whose home in Tompkinsville is in the eastern portion of the district, has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Comer told The Associated Press on Monday that he planned to start a business in farming and commercial development once his term ends, adding that he would not challenge Whitfield in a GOP primary. The agriculture commissioner finished second in the GOP primary by a razor-thin 83 votes to Republican nominee Matt Bevin.

“(The governor’s race) left a bad taste in my mouth,” Comer told the AP at the Hemp Industries Association’s annual conference in Lexington. “But I’ll say this: There is no place like home. If I ever did anything again it would probably be around home and not so much statewide.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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