On Tuesday, Kentuckians woke to the news that Democrat Amy McGrath will challenge 34-year U.S. senator and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his seat in next year’s election.
Pundits were quick to label McGrath the underdog in the race. In fact, the Bluegrass State has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Wendell Ford in 1992.
Does Amy McGrath have a realistic chance of unseating U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in next year's election?
However, after her narrow loss to U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in last year’s midterm election, McGrath has the name recognition and financial backing to give McConnell, well, a run for his money. During her first congressional bid her coffers reached roughly $8.6 million — out-fundraising Barr by $3 million.
The Dems, in particular Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, handpicked McGrath because “she is the one that has what it takes” to defeat McConnell, who relishes the nickname “Grim Reaper” of the Senate graveyard — a place where House majority legislation goes to die. It's also true that Kentuckians don't care much for outsiders meddling in our elections, so support from Schumer and other national liberals could prove a curse as much as a blessing for McGrath.
Seeking his seventh term and on the same ballot as his ally President Donald Trump, the 77-year-old senator is expected to rely on the same message that has served him well for decades — he can help stop Democratic bills from reaching the Oval Office.
While still in its infancy, the race pits old against new. There is more than just a 33-year age gap and the letters “D, E, F” separating these two. Will the incumbent’s power persevere or does his lengthy tenure make him more vulnerable? Only time will tell.
Speaking of timing, McGrath’s — though most likely orchestrated — was impeccable. Perhaps piggybacking on the “girl power” momentum following the U.S. Women’s World Cup victory earlier in the week, the former Marine fighter pilot took to the web to announce her candidacy in a three-minute video clip.
The clip shows a 13-year-old McGrath writing a letter to McConnell telling him she wanted to fly fighter jets in combat and that women should be allowed to do so. She goes on to say he never wrote back and wonders how many other Kentuckians the senator didn’t take the time to respond to during his three-plus decades in office.
However, the biggest question ultimately goes to the voters: Will Kentuckians stick with the status quo, or has the time for change come?