Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and combat pilot, announced Tuesday she would try to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a politician she said was first “elected a lifetime ago.”
In an announcement video, McGrath cast McConnell as out of touch with his Kentucky constituents and blamed him for dysfunction in Washington, saying he has turned the capital into “something we despise.”
“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” McGrath said in the three-minute video.
The high-profile Democratic challenger narrowly lost her race last year against Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr (R-Ky.) and has remained in the political spotlight since. In December, she said she would not run for governor, heightening speculation that should would run for the Senate seat that McConnell has held since 1985.
The video by McGrath, now 44, opens with her talking about her military aspirations when she was 13 years old.
“I wrote a letter to my senator telling him I wanted to fly fighter jets in combat, to fight for my country, and that women should be able to do that,” she said. “He never wrote back. I’m Amy McGrath, and I’ve often wondered how many other people did Mitch McConnell never take the time to write back or even think about.”
McConnell’s campaign responded with a video of its own, which used McGrath’s own words from her House race to portray her as “too liberal for Kentucky.”
The video included clips of McGrath calling President Trump’s proposed border wall “stupid,” advocating for single-payer health care and touting her pro-choice credentials.
She is also shown comparing the way she felt after Trump’s election in 2016 to the way she felt after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In a statement, McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden said McGrath has “a heckuva platform that we will be delighted to discuss over the next sixteen months.”
While McConnell has been dogged by low job-approval ratings in his home state, he easily turned back his Democratic challenger the last time he was on the ballot, in 2014. In that race, McConnell prevailed 56 percent to 41 percent over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
In an interview Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” McGrath said she was not running to be a “politician.”
“I’m doing this because I care about our country, and I care about Kentucky, and we need people of courage to step up,” she said.