Congressman Davis resigns citing family health issue; friend says resignation has been in the works

07/31/2012 07:19 PM

Republican Congressman Geoff Davis, who already had decided not to run for re-election, resigned his seat Tuesday citing a health issue in his family.

Davis, who has served as congressman for the 4th congressional district in Northern Kentucky since 2005, submitted his resignation to Gov. Steve Beshear, who is traveling in Europe on an economic development trip, and to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

Here’s what Davis said in his statement:

“I thank the people of Kentucky’s Fourth District for the honor of serving as their Congressman over the last eight years.
When I was a Cadet at West Point, I internalized the words of the U.S. Military Academy’s motto, ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’ Next, I learned that success was based on honoring God, Family, and Work, in that order. In December 2011, I decided that in order to honor those values, I needed to retire from Congressional service so I could more effectively serve my family as a husband and father.
Those priorities continue to guide my decisions. Recently, a family health issue has developed that will demand significantly more of my time to assist. As a result, I cannot continue to effectively fulfill my obligations to both my office and my family. Family must and will come first.
Therefore, I am resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives effective at close of business on July 31, 2012.
I have served with great men and women in the Congress in both parties, and leave knowing that the House is filled with people who love this country and are working to make our future better. I am grateful to have been blessed by being a part of this great institution.”

Kevin Sell, the 4th congressional district Republican Party chairman and a close friend of Davis, said he wasn’t aware of the family health issue to which Davis’ statement referred.

Sell said Davis mentioned the possibility of leaving during a conversation in June. At the time, Davis had said he was eager to return to Northern Kentucky to spend more time with his wife, Pat, his children and grandchildren and wasn’t looking forward to going through the motions in Congress over the next six months, Sell said.

“When you look at the fact that they start to push them out in the fall and there’s usually just procedural votes and they’re not replacing staff, he had just decided that it was time to go,” Sell said.

Sell said he didn’t try to talk Davis out of resigning early but he did provide some counterpoints, such as continuing the representation of 4th district constituents. However, Davis’ staff will remain in place through the end of the year, so constituents will have congressional contacts.

“I’m not in his shoes. As his friend, I put forth some arguments to consider. He did consider them. But he kept coming up with the same result,” Sell said.

Reacting to the news, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell issued a statement calling Davis “an outstanding representative for the people of Kentucky’s Fourth District.”

“He has accomplished much and has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Kentucky during his tenure. I wish him and his family well as he embarks on his new endeavor,” McConnell said.

Davis abruptly announced his decision not to run for a fifth term on Dec. 15, 2011. A month later, he told Republicans that he had decided in the spring of 2011 that he wouldn’t run again so he could spend more time with his family, as Pure Politics reported. Republican Thomas Massie, the former Lewis County judge-executive, and Democrat Bill Adkins, a Williamstown lawyer are vying for the congressional seat.

Davis backed Republican Alecia Webb-Edgington during the spring primary contest and barely disguised his disappointment with Massie’s win during an interview with Pure Politics on Election Night.

Sell said he would expect to see even less of Davis on the campaign trail this fall on Massie’s behalf “based on the context of what is in his statement.”

Massie and his wife Rhonda also issued a statement Tuesday evening:

“My wife, Rhonda, and I admire Congressman Davis’ family’s commitment to God, family and country and pray for a swift and complete recovery from their family health issue.
We sincerely thank Congressman Geoff Davis and his family for their tremendous service to Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district and to our country. His military and political careers exemplify what it means to be a tireless and effective public servant.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

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