Politics & Government

Joe Palumbo withdraws from Central Kentucky congressional race

Joe Palumbo, president of  Palumbo Lumber in Lexington, was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.
Joe Palumbo, president of Palumbo Lumber in Lexington, was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.

Lexington businessman Joe Palumbo has decided to withdraw from the Democratic primary race for the 6th District U.S. House seat held by Republican Andy Barr.

Palumbo, the son of longtime state Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that his family and his business are his top priorities, and he doesn't think now is the time to start a political career.

"After discussing it with my wife, Jennifer, we decided at this time that it would be best to focus on our responsibilities at home, with our two young children, and at Palumbo Lumber, where we have almost 50 full-time employees," Palumbo said.

The Palumbos have an 8-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

Palumbo said he and his wife "still plan to work hard to do what we can to make this great community even better."

Palumbo pledged to "support and do what I can to help whoever wins the Democratic primary."

Palumbo's exit from the race means that education advocate Elisabeth Jensen is the likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Jensen said in a statement that she hopes to get support from Palumbo "as we join forces in becoming part of a Congress that works."

She said her campaign will focus on bringing a "solutions-based approach to Congress."

"Instead of kicking children and families off of SNAP benefits, and shutting down the government as a political ploy, we need to be focusing on education and workforce development to create opportunities for Kentucky's working families," Jensen said.

Other Democrats who have said they intend to seek the party's nomination include Lexington lawyer Michael Coblenz and retired engineer Geoff Young.

Whoever advances from the Democratic primary faces a significant cash disadvantage against Barr, who had almost $1 million in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.

Palumbo outpaced Jensen in the third quarter, raising more than $95,000 and lending his campaign an additional $50,000 since entering the race in mid-July. Palumbo's $145,000 topped the more than $51,000 Jensen raised, bringing her total since entering the race in mid-June to more than $125,000.

Palumbo didn't rule out a future run on either the state or federal levels.

"Since I got in the race in July, I've learned a lot from traveling the district and listening to the good people of this region," Palumbo said. "It has been a rewarding experience to get to better know the hard-working people of the 6th District who make this part of Kentucky so special."