Republican state Rep. John “Bam” Carney, a teacher and former House Majority Floor Leader, has died at the age of 51.
Carney was first hospitalized with a severe case of pancreatitis in December 2019. His health declined again in recent weeks, according to his family.
Carney’s family shared news of his death on Facebook on Saturday morning.
The Campbellsville legislator was first elected in 2008 and went on to serve as chair of the House Education Committee when Republicans won control of the chamber in 2017. He later became House Majority Floor Leader.
Carney also worked as a teacher and coached middle school and high school football for 16 years.
House Speaker David Osborne issued a statement saying the hearts of the Republican caucus are broken.
“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,” Osborne said.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying Carney’s devotion to Kentuckians “knew no bounds.”
“He uplifted the lives of his constituents through more than a decade of hard work and dedication, deeply committed to Central Kentucky and its people. It is a testament to his strong character that he was chosen to lead Kentucky Republicans as the House Majority Leader, a role which he passionately embraced,” McConnell said.
Leaders of the House Democratic Caucus issued a statement saying they were proud to serve with him.
“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,” Reps. Joni Jenkins, Angie Hatton and Derrick Graham said in the statement.