Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest challenge is not from Democrats in the Senate or even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but a Marine combat aviator who announced Tuesday she is running against him in 2020.
Amy McGrath, a Democrat who lost a close House race in 2018, sees McConnell’s close ties to President Trump as a possible weakness for the incumbent GOP leader and Kentucky senator.
"Everything that’s wrong with Washington had to start somewhere—it started with him," McGrath said in a Tuesday morning tweet. McConnell has been in office since 1985.
History is not on McGrath’s side, as Kentucky has not elected a Democratic senator since 1992. Trump’s popularity in the state may also be a hurdle, as McConnell successfully helped the president achieve a number of goals, including the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Despite this, McGrath remains undaunted.
“I've been always somebody who stepped up to the plate when asked, when I felt like my country needed me, and this is one of those times," she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
McGrath believes that people in her state voted for Trump due to promises to “drain the swamp” and lower prices of prescription drugs; promises she does not believe the president has fulfilled.
“Those things haven’t happened because of guys like Senator McConnell,” she said.
Trump is expected to back McConnell, as he did for Rep. Andy Barr, the lawmaker who defeated McGrath last year by just three percentage points.
On Tuesday morning, McConnell’s campaign responded to McGrath’s announcement with a tweet that included a video montage of her supporting liberal positions on issues including universal health care, abortion, and illegal immigration, as well as a clip of her comparing her reaction to Trump’s election to how she felt on 9/11.
The tweet included a brief message: “Welcome to the race, Amy.”
McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden also responded to McGrath's announcement by calling her "an extreme liberal who is far out of touch with Kentuckians." In a statement, he said, "Comparing President Trump’s election to 9/11, endorsing a government takeover of healthcare, and calling the wall “stupid” is a heckuva platform that we will be delighted to discuss over the next sixteen months
The Associated Press contributed to this report.