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Ret. Marine combat fighter pilot Amy McGrath launches Senate bid against Mitch McConnell in KY

Retired U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath hugs a supporter after she gave her concession speech in a House race at the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts in Richmond, Ky., on November 6, 2018. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/Zuma Press/TNS)
July 09, 2019

Former Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath announced this week that she is running against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

McGrath, the first female to fly a fighter jet in a Marine Corps combat mission, released her campaign announcement video on Tuesday.

“I’m running to replace Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate. Everything that’s wrong with Washington had to start somewhere — it started with him. He’s a career politician who’s been in the Senate for a lifetime, and all he has to show for it is a trail of corruption and obstruction. Health care, budgets, and the Supreme Court are his hostages, to be wielded as a weapon against anyone who dares to oppose him,” McGrath, a Democrat, said in a statement along with the video.

“I’m not a career politician. I’m a daughter, a mom, a wife, a retired Marine, and a fighter pilot. I know this is going to be a tough fight — Mitch literally invented modern negative campaigning — but I’m ready for it,” she added.

A Democratic senator has not been elected in Kentucky since 1992.

“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,” McGrath said in an interview with The Associated Press.

McGrath, a former F/A-18 fighter pilot, said she wrote to McConnell when she was just 13 years old and said she aspired to be a fighter pilot, but women were not allowed to do so at the time. McGrath claims McConnell never wrote her back – a claim she’s now using in her campaign.

“When I was 13 years old, I wrote my Senator — I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but women weren’t allowed to do that. Mitch McConnell never wrote back, and I know I’m not the only Kentuckian he’s ignored in his years in Washington. Let’s defeat him together,” she wrote.

McGrath previously ran for a House seat in Kentucky in the 2018 midterm elections but lost to Republican incumbent Andy Barr by more than three percent of the vote.

McConnell’s campaign manager, Kevin Golden, said McGrath’s 2018 loss “in a Democratic wave election [was] because she is an extreme liberal who is far out of touch with Kentuckians.”

Democrats have reportedly compiled briefing books spanning more than 1,000 pages on McConnell’s record to use in upcoming attack ads, the Associated Press noted.