Kentucky Representative Bam Carney dies at age 51

Kentucky Representative Bam Carney dies at age 51
Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 11:11 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Representative and former House Majority Leader Bam Carney has died.

Carney was first elected to represent the 51st district, which includes Taylor and Adair County, in 2009.

Carney returned home last month after being hospitalized for more than a year with a severe case of pancreatitis.

In a statement released Saturday, June 17, House Speaker David Osborne said he lost a friend and a brother.

“Bam was a passionate educator, an outstanding legislator, and a tremendous leader for our Commonwealth. Those who had the privilege of working with Bam knew he led by example and subscribed heavily to the belief that you can do great things if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

He said Carney worked hard for the children of Kentucky, bringing focus to both strengthening physical safety and raising awareness for childhood mental health.

Governor Andy Beshear said on Twitter he and his wife were sad to learn of Carney’s passing. He offered sympathy and prayers to Carney’s family and friends.

In his own statement, State Auditor Mike Harmon expressed sadness in learning about Carney’s death.

“I am very saddened to learn about the passing of my former colleague in the Kentucky House, and more importantly, my friend, Rep. Bam Carney,” Harmon said. “Bam was a tremendous leader for his district and the Commonwealth as the former House Majority Leader and on the House Education Committee. Bam tirelessly worked for the betterment of our classrooms and served all Kentuckians with compassion.”

In an interview with WKYT, Harmon said, “He was a strong Christian man. He worked so hard for everybody. It was very sad to see we lost him. He fought hard, he fought for a year and a half. He just never could make it back.”

Also saying, “We worked on the bill to try and solidify health care for our teachers, there was a time there wasn’t a separate fund for their insurance.”

Harmon went on to say he and his wife offer their thoughts and prayers to Carney’s sons as well as his friends, family, and constituents.

Chaiman Mac Brown spoke highly of Rep. Carney’s fight for legislation to better classrooms across the Commonwealth.

“He talked about how to fund school choice that worked for the whole school system.”

Going on to tell WKYT that Rep. Carney will be missed as a legislator, but even more as a dear friend.

“He was a good man. That’s what you really mourn. A person you could go to and speak honestly and comfortably with and disagree with.”

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said Carney fought for Kentucky’s students and tried to change the Commonwealth for the better.

“During his long illness, he continued to serve in a different way by becoming an inspiration to others who face hardships. The people of Kentucky are profoundly thankful for his advocacy and work.”

Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Leaders also released a statement on Carney’s passing:

“We deeply mourn the passing of state Representative Bam Carney, a good friend we were proud to serve within the Kentucky House, and pray for his family during this difficult time. For more than a year and a half, he fought his illness with the same level of determination and dignity that he brought to his work as a legislator and as a legislative leader. He was an outstanding public servant who truly believed that whatever our differences, we are united as Kentuckians. He will be missed, but his life and legacy will never be forgotten.”

Leader Jenkins told WKYT, “I cannot remember him when he didn’t have a smile on his face. I’m going to remember that big smile. But also, his great sense of humor and his compassion for other people.”

Also saying, “We didn’t always agree. We were from different parties and had different philosophies about a lot of things. But he was never disagreeable. We were always able to talk through our differences. He was a great advocate for education. He was a great advocate for his district. It’s just a very sad day for all of us in Kentucky to lose a great man.”

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles called Carney a fighter. He said he was patient and kind with him when he was first elected to the House of Representatives.

“Through his role as chair of the House Education Committee, Bam fought to put the interests of students first. As House Majority Leader, he fought to bring about a conservative vision for Kentucky, increase economic opportunities, and make the American dream possible for more Kentuckians. And, in these last few years, he fought tirelessly to get well, get home, and get back to representing his constituents in the halls of Frankfort.

Quarles told WKYT in an interview, “He was one who was very understanding. He listened before he spoke and he also tried and thrived to do what’s best to affect the most Kentuckians as possible.”

Going on to say Rep. Carney taught him many lessons, including this: “I will remember for the rest of my life to never give up.”

Treasurer Allison Ball said she is grateful Carney is now in heaven. She said he was a good man and will be missed.

Carney was 51 years old.

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