On Monday, Somerset Democrats hosted a campaign stop for Amy McGrath, the Democratic candidate who is seeking to overthrow Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.
For some, the battle may seem like an extreme uphill climb.
McConnell is the longest-serving U.S. senator from this state, having first been elected in 1984. He has risen to the ranks of Senate Majority Leader.
McGrath, in contrast, is veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp, serving 20 years, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and being the first female in the Corp to fly a combat mission in an F/A-18, before retiring in 2017.
So, not a career politician, then.
As McGrath addressed a packed room at the Pulaski County Democratic Headquarters, she made it clear how she feels that, despite the odds, she can win this race.
“I think what makes this an incredible and important election – and a winnable election right now – is that Mitch McConnell is not well liked in Kentucky,” she said.
She pointed to his track record with health care related bills – several of which “sit on his desk” without a chance of being heard by the Senate, she accused, much less of being sent to be signed into law by President Donald Trump,
“We have the highest cancer rates in the country. We have one of the highest rates of diabetes. We have some of the highest per capita spending on prescription medication, and we have a senator who not only doesn’t want to do anything about any of these issues, is actually actively working to make things worse,” McGrath said.
“… At the end of the day, you cannot change Washington until you change the people you send there,” she said.
After the speech, McGrath was asked to respond to the suggestion that removing McConnell from office would potentially remove Kentucky’s power in Washington.
She contended, “I would say that, number one, Kentucky would probably get a better status if they had Mitch McConnell out, because he is not well-liked around the country. But also, he’s really bad on the bigger, broader issues. If you look at Kentucky, by so many measurable metrics, we’re not doing well in comparison to other states, and all these things that have happened have happened on Mitch McConnell’s watch. We have entire regions of our state that are economically decimated. He has no plan for the future, ‘cause if he had a plan, he would have enacted it 20 years ago.
“... When he has all this power, what does he do with it? What good is a senator with all this so-called power if he doesn’t use it for us?”
In addition to health care, McGrath wants to focus on bringing in high-paying jobs – something she says cannot happen without updating the state’s infrastructure, both 20th century, like roads, bridges and dams, and 21st century in the form of accessible broadband internet and expanded cell service.
McGrath said she would be able to accomplish what needed to be done for Kentucky by working across the aisle. She proudly states that she is a Democrat while her husband is a life-long Republican.
As such, it isn’t about partisan politics to her, she said. She pledged to work with any President in charge – even Trump.
When asked if she was sure she can work with him, McGrath responded, “I can. President Trump, I don’t agree with everything that he stands for, but I tell you what – and this is the biggest difference between myself and Mitch McConnell – is I will work with any president, whether he – or she, someday – wears a red jersey or a blue jersey, to do what’s right for Kentucky.
“At the same time, I will have enough guts, shall we say, to stand up to any president, when it’s about our constitution, or when it’s right for Kentucky.”