Dane Larsen | @_danebailey
Democrats have a strategy to retake the Senate in 2020, along with the Presidency. With strong candidates across the board, a new leader emerged in July. Amy McGrath announced her bid to remove Mitch McConnell from his congressional seat in D.C. The “Ditch Mitch” phenomenon gained traction in Kentucky after the election of President Trump and the polarization of the two parties. As a result, a new challenger approaches, with Amy McGrath stepping in as a left-of-center Democrat to threaten the neoconservative sector of the GOP.
Out with the Old
Mitch McConnell’s approval rating as the Majority Leader of the US Senate is abysmal. Nationally, the most recent poll puts McConnell at 23% favorability. Within his home state of Kentucky, the rating rises 10%, up to 33%, which is still one of the lowest home-state approval ratings in D.C. In fact, Mitch McConnell stands at the fourth-worst approval rating in the Senate, with only Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Thom Tillis (D-NC) ranking below him.
As a result of recent unfavorable events in accordance with President Donald Trump, the previously mentioned “Ditch Mitch” campaign took Kentucky by storm. That is to say, the spectacle spread across the nation in the nick of time for his re-election bid of 2020. Mirroring his low approval rating, citizens of Louisville crusaded to vote the 35-year veteran out of office. McConnell is a master of campaign-funding himself, already raising over $10 million with over $7 million on hand when the election cycle gets closer. Democratic groups across the nation have started independent pledges, raising money for the sole reason of getting McConnell out. The most recent evaluation puts the official Ditch Mitch fund at $2,400,000 raised, with 55,000 grassroots donors.
Mitch Must Go: As Told by Kentucky Youth
Democrats, Independents, and a portion of GOP voters decided that current leadership is not effective enough to warrant unopposed reelection. No matter if they’re from the Appalachian region in Pikeville, the Western Hills of Bowling Green, or the most progressive region of the Louisville Metro, the youth are leading the charge to put Kentucky back on the map.
17-year-old Louisville-native and Kentucky YMCA Youth Association leader Harrison described his opposition to the Senator. “For a man who isn’t even truly born to the state, he has slandered the reputation of Democrats and Republicans alike.” He went on to discuss McConnell’s experience with President Barack Obama, saying “Instead of listening to [his voters], he spent his time under Obama trying to make the presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as possible.” Harrison then stated that “The Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States deserve someone new. We deserve someone who cares. We deserve someone who is willing to work with elected politicians from both sides of the aisle. McConnell is not the person who will ensure that everyone has the right to the American Dream.”
In a deeply red state that favors Trump far more than they do Mitch McConnell, electing a Democratic senator is a tall order. If anybody is that person to drop the ball, however, it is McConnell in 2020. Kentucky Democrats and centrists believe they have the right woman for the job in Amy McGrath.
Amy McGrath At a Glimpse
McGrath’s political history is not nearly as extensive as her opponent’s. The favorable candidate has never held a seat in a municipal, state-wide, or national political position. Her former career is one, however, that can speak to the Republican voters and “Ditch-Mitch” moderates in the general election. McGrath served 20 years as a Marine fighter pilot in the early attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban. After flying 89 combat missions, McGrath was inducted as a member of the Kentucky Aviation Museum Hall of Fame. Electing politicians with a history of military service dates back to the roots of United States politics and is favorable to most civilian Americans.
The only other political campaign Amy McGrath headed resulted in a loss but stirred the pot of Kentucky politics. In November of 2018, the incumbent House Republican Andy Barr was challenged by a bright, young, Democratic hopeful: Amy McGrath. In her first battle for a seat in the Capitol building, she nearly pulled off the biggest upset of 2018. Despite having the city of Lexington in the region, Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District is historically Republican, giving an average nine-point advantage to the Republican running. In deeply-red central Kentucky, a Democrat coming within 3-4% of a popular incumbent is unheard of. In short, McGrath’s 3.2% spread was an accomplishment in and of itself, considering Barr defeated his opponent in 2016 by 22.2%.
McGrath’s Momentous Surge
McGrath threw herself into the running as a legitimate candidate on the very first day of campaigning. During the first 24 hours, her team fundraised $2.5 million from 69,000 individual donors, joining popular Democratic presidential candidates in the “grassroots” strategy. Her push for 2020 may rival that of her 2016 battle, where she fundraised $8.5 million with no name recognition. In the upcoming election, McGrath’s challenge to McConnell will surely be one to watch out for.
In her first campaign video, “The Letter”, McGrath explains her career as a veteran, attacks McConnell and promotes her platforms. This is all exemplified in her slogan “Defeat Mitch, Defend Democracy”. Moreover, McGrath’s slogan is displayed over a shot of her military uniform and badges of honor.
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