Sunday, 12 July, 2020

Former Marine pilot to challenge Mitch McConnell in Kentucky Senate race

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Cecil Davis | 30 June, 2020, 22:28

McGrath was backed by the Democratic establishment looking for a challenger to keep McConnell tied down in Kentucky as the GOP tries to hold its Senate majority.

Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, fended off a challenge from an upstart progressive, Charles Booker, ABC News projects, nabbing the Democratic nomination on Tuesday to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.

"When we started this thing, we were down 50 points, up against a candidate with millions of dollars in the bank and all of Washington behind her", he said. But she had to dip into that money for ads to fight off a late surge from Booker, who entered the race only in January.

"Extreme Amy McGrath is lucky to have gotten out of the primary with a victory, but her reputation sustained significant damage all across Kentucky", said Kate Cooksey, a spokesperson for McConnell's campaign. Her campaign launch video in July 2019 did not mention the word "Kentucky", and the Democrat went on to spend big on national ads that loosened liberal purse strings.

The Louisville Courier-Journal chided national Democrats for the early support of McGrath, who struggled with her campaign launch last summer when she said she would have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh before nearly immediately reversing course and saying she wouldn't.

Since then, McConnell's campaign has treated the well-funded McGrath as the likely Democratic nominee, seeking to cast her as too liberal for Kentucky.

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The surge by Booker, who is black, came amid a time of nationwide protests over police brutality against minorities and systemic racism.

Despite her advantages, McGrath sweated out her victory against the hard-charging Booker. He joined demonstrations in his hometown of Louisville to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police in her own home.

But McGrath made up ground as more votes were tallied, according to updated results.

McGrath accuses McConnell of spending too much time on tax cuts for the wealthy and not enough time on affordable health care, hitting his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He promotes his work with President Donald Trump - who remains popular in Kentucky - to appoint conservatives to fill federal court seats. He also won the backing of former Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes-who lost to McConnell in 2014-as well as the Louisville Courier Journal and Lexington Herald Leader.

Public polling in the race had been scarce, but one survey released earlier this month showed Booker with an eight-point lead. McGrath has said she would have voted to convict Trump on both impeachment counts.

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