Whitfield Announces Early Retirement, Triggering 1st District Special Election
Retiring US. Rep. Ed Whitfield says he will resign early from office next week, triggering a special election for Kentucky's 1st Congressional District.
Whitfield sent a letter Monday notifying Gov. Matt Bevin of the move.
Whitfield's communications director Robert Hankins said his resignation will be effective at 6 p.m. September 6. Asked for further comment on the reasons behind the resignation, Hankins offered no comment.
"While I cannot comment officially with any details, as the release indicates, Congressman Whitfield will be making an announcement as to future plans within the next 30 days," Hankins said.
First elected in 1994, Whitfield announced his retirement last September in the midst of a House Ethics Committee investigation regarding his wife's involvement lobbying staffers on a bill he sponsored, but he was rebuked from the unintentional violations.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on Whitfield's resignation:
“For more than two decades, Congressman Ed Whitfield has served the people of Kentucky’s First District with distinction. During his tenure in Congress, Ed has fought hard for the people of western Kentucky and it has been an honor working alongside him on a variety of issues, including our support for the workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and for the men and women serving our country stationed at Fort Campbell. I am thankful for our many years of friendship, and Elaine and I extend every best wish to Ed, Connie and the entire Whitfield family in the years ahead.”
Gov. Bevin will call a special election to fulfill the remainder of Whitfield's term ending in January.
"Both personally and on behalf of the Commonwealth, I want to thank Congressman Ed Whitfield for his many years of service to our state and our nation. He has served the people of Kentucky's first district admirably, and we wish him all the very best in the years ahead," said Bevin, in a statement. "I will issue a proclamation declaring that the special election to fill this vacancy will be held on the same date and time as the General Election, which is November 8, 2016."
The special election will be Nov. 8, the same day as the general election between Republican James Comer and Democrat Sam Gaskins.
"I sincerely appreciate Congressman Whitfield's 22 years of service to the people of the 1st District," said Comer, in a written statement. "As his constituents, TJ and I have always admired his conservative values and steadfast support for the coal industry."
With respect to the ensuing Special Election, Comer said, "I will seek the nomination for the unexpired term of Congressman Whitfield, and fully expect to be on the ballot twice on November 8, once for the unexpired term and once for the full two year term."
Democratic candidate Sam Gaskins says he plans to be on the special election ballot as well. Reached for comment, he saluted Whitfield for his 20+ years in Washington.
"I know that serving people is a very big responsibility and he's done it for 22 years and I have to commend him for that," Gaskins said. "It's a hard job and it's a thankless job at times."
Whitfield has yet to disclose a reason for the move.
In the letter, Whitfield says he will announce his future plans within the 30 days.
This story will be updated