Amy McGrath Nearly Pulled off One of the Biggest Upsets in 2018. Now She’s Taking on Mitch McConnell.

The former marine fighter pilot could pose a serious threat to the Republican Senate leader.

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Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, the former Marine fighter pilot who entered the national spotlight last year after she narrowly lost to Republican Rep. Andy Barr in the state’s 6th Congressional District, is back. And this time she’s taking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

In a three-minute announcement video released Tuesday morning, McGrath sharply criticizes McConnell, saying he’s out of touch with Kentucky residents and blames him for turning Washington, DC “into something we all despise” and “a place where ideals go to die.”  

Minutes after McGrath’s video was posted, McConnell’s campaign fired back with its own video, calling McGrath “too liberal for Kentucky,” painting her as a progressive in the ranks with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. 

Ever since McGrath lost her election to Barr, she’s kept a fairly high profile in Washington. In December, she decided not to run for Kentucky governor after some Democrats raised concerns about her residency requirements. Since then, her name has been floating as potential challenger to McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been actively recruiting her to run since the beginning of the year. 

Despite McConnell’s vast unpopularity—according to polls from Morning Consult, just 36 percent of Kentuckians approve of McConnell, making him the least popular senator in the country—McGrath still has big hill to climb. As Dave Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report, pointed out, she lost her 2018 election to Barr by 3 points in a district that voted for President Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. Now, she’s running against a Republican incumbent who’s held the seat for 34 years in a state that voted for Trump by 30 points in 2016. 

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