Kentucky State Rep. John “Bam” Carney passed away Saturday morning at age 51 after a long health battle beginning in December 2019.
Carney, from Campbellsville, was hospitalized in December 2019 and diagnosed with a severe case of pancreatitis which led to several life-threatening complications. His family announced his passing on Saturday.
Throughout his time in the legislature, Carney served as House Education Committee Chair, and then later Majority Leader and championed a number of key bills. He was passionate about education and the state’s competitiveness. As a result, Carney was awarded the Chamber MVP award multiple years well as recognition from many other organizations from across the state.
Carney was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2009, representing the 51st District covering Adair and Taylor counties. The Campbellsville native was an educator and spent 16 years coaching basketball and football at the middle and high school levels.
Following the news of Carney’s passing Saturday, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts made the following statement:
“The Chamber mourns the loss of our friend, Rep. John “Bam” Carney, who during his time in the legislature championed many Chamber initiatives and received our MVP award multiple times. Bam was a true statesman and champion for Kentucky leading key initiatives around education and an improved business climate. The impact he made on the Commonwealth cannot be understated and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”
Kentucky political leaders released statements Saturday mourning the loss of their colleague and friend:
“Our hearts are broken at the loss of our friend and brother, Bam Carney. 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. As House Education Chair and House Majority Floor Leader, he worked diligently to provide a voice for children in classrooms across our state. His collaborative approach led to the passage of the School Safety and Resiliency Act, bringing focus to both strengthening physical safety and our approach to childhood mental health issues. For more than a year and a half Bam fought valiantly to overcome his health issues, all while remaining steadfastly dedicated to the people of his district. While there is great comfort in knowing he is free from the constant pain and struggle, we pray his sons, his mother, and his entire family find comfort in knowing so many join them in mourning the legacy of a good man,” Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne.
“We deeply mourn the passing of state Representative Bam Carney, a good friend we were proud to serve with in 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.” — House Democratic Caucus Leaders Joni Jenkins, Derrick Graham and Angie Hatton.
“Bam Carney was a tireless public servant whose devotion to his fellow 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. Throughout his tenure, Bam took on tough issues and fought for Kentucky’s most vulnerable students, using his expertise as an educator and coach 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. “From the statehouse, to the classroom, to the United States Senate, Kentuckians are deeply saddened by this loss. Elaine and I share our heartfelt condolences with Bam’s family, colleagues, and friends.”- Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.