McConnell Challenger Doesn't Say 'Kentucky' in Campaign Announcement Ad

McGrath: This race is about 'resetting our nation's moral compass'

July 9, 2019

Democrat Amy McGrath announced Tuesday she is running to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) without uttering the word "Kentucky" once in her launch video.

In a solemnly scored ad called "The Letter," the retired Marine fighter pilot announced she was seeking the Democratic nomination and recounted writing a letter to McConnell as a 13-year-old about her dream of flying fighter jets in combat.

"He never wrote back," she said. "I'm Amy McGrath, and I've often wondered, how many other people did Mitch McConnell never take the time to write back or even think about?"

The ad did include images of Kentuckians flashed on the screen, with the names of the counties they lived in, as McGrath narrated their stories: a steel worker who found out his mill was shutting down, a diabetic fearing losing her health insurance, a coal miner forced to retire due to illness, and a young woman with looming student loan debt.

"Everything that's wrong in Washington had to start some place," McGrath said. "How did it come to this? That even within our own families, we can't talk to each other about the leaders of our country anymore without anger and blame. Well, it started with this man, who was elected a lifetime ago, and who has bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.

"Where dysfunction and chaos are political weapons. Where budgets and health care and the Supreme Court are held hostage. A place where ideals go to die."

McGrath said she was running to protect democracy and assure the country's freedoms but still the word "Kentucky" didn't escape her lips.

"There is a path to resetting our country's moral compass, where each of us is heard, and we can become, once again, the moral and economic leader of a world in disarray," she said. "But to do that, we have to win this."

McGrath drew national attention in her failed bid to unseat Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.) in Kentucky's Sixth District in 2018. She lost by four points in the GOP-leaning district in a favorable year for Democrats, who recaptured the House of Representatives.

Democrats are eager to knock out McConnell, who has left them fuming with his stonewalling of the House Democratic agenda and ability to confirm President Donald Trump's judicial nominees.

McConnell is seeking a seventh term in the U.S. Senate, and he is known to be a formidable campaigner and strategist. In his last election in 2014, he crushed highly touted Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by 15 points. No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in Kentucky since 1992.

President Donald Trump will be atop the ticket in 2020 as well, and he won Kentucky in 2016 by 30 points.

McGrath compared Trump's 2016 victory to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, saying she woke up the morning after Trump elected feeling as if she had been sucker punched.

"The only feeling I can describe that's any close to it was the feeling I had after 9/11," McGrath said. "‘What just happened, where are we going from here,' and it was that just sinking feeling of sadness, and I didn't know what to do."