John Mitchel Owen Carney, known as Bam Carney (born September 30, 1969),) is the Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from District 51 (Taylor and Adair counties), Carney succeeded the retiring Republican Representative Russ Mobley, who was first elected in 2000.
Both Carney and Mobley have backgrounds in education, Carney as a basketball coach in area public schools and Mobley at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, where he supervised theatre arts for more than two decades.
A native of the Yuma/Speck Ridge community, Carney is the son of June Gabehart Carney and the late Don Carney of Elk Horn. His maternal grandparents were the late W.J. "Bug" Gabehart and the former Irene Eastridge of Casey Creek. His paternal grandparents were Stanley, Jr., and Christine Carney of Columbia, the seat of Adair County. Carney attended elementary school at Knifley and then graduated from Taylor County High School in Campbellsville. In 1991, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Berea College in Berea, with an emphasis in political science. He later earned teacher certification from Campbellsville University and a Master of Arts degree in educational instructional leadership from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. Carney is married to the former Jenifer Martin (born May 1, 1968), originally from Springfield. The couple has two sons. He is a member of Living Grace Church.
Carney, a former coach, teaches social studies at Taylor County High School in Campbellsville while he simultaneously serves in the part-time state legislature. He was previously a social studies teacher and head basketball coach at Washington County High School in Springfield in Washington County. Previously, he worked for five years for the Campbellsville Municipal Water Department.
In a news release announcing his candidacy, Carney said that he would concentrate his endeavors on public schools, higher education, health care, the infrastructure, and jobs creation. He pledged to build a strong relationship with area state Senators Vernie McGaha, who has since retired, and Dan Kelly. He promised to work to bring several local projects to fruition. Carney said that he would form an advisory team of both Democrats and Republicans from both Adair and Taylor counties.
With Mobley's support, Carney won the Republican nomination in May 2008 over two opponents from Campbellsville. He led the primary with 1,925 votes (41.3 percent). Asa James Swan and Russell Montgomery, a former Democrat, trailed with th 1,636 votes (35.1 percent) and 1,097 primary ballots (23.6 percent), respectively.
Runoffs are not required for party nominations in Kentucky. In the general election, Carney defeated Billy Joe Fudge (born April 12, 1951) of Columbia, a replacement Democratic opponent, after the unopposed party nominee, Stephen Doug Mullins (born February 4, 1944) of Campbellsville, withdrew because of health considerations. Carney received 16,105 votes (54.4 percent) to Fudge's 12,263 (41.4 percent). A third candidate polled 1,239 votes (4.2 percent).