Election Day might still be more than a year away, but these races are getting started. Democrats seized control of the House during the 2018 midterm elections, but Republicans retained the majority in the Senate — and the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has posed numerous challenges to progressive lawmakers. For months, Democrats have threatened to unseat McConnell, and now, one of them has launched a campaign to do just that. Who is Amy McGrath? This Democrat from Kentucky has already shattered records as she gears up for a 2020 challenge against McConnell.
McGrath announced on Tuesday, July 9, that she would be running for the U.S. Senate — or, more specifically, for McConnell's Senate seat — and she's already off to quite a start. In just 24 hours, McGrath's campaign reported raising a whopping $2.5 million, per The New York Times. This is more than what some presidential candidates raised in the first 24 hours of their campaigns, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Times reported.
In fact, McGrath's campaign manager told NBC News that the $2.5 million she raised was the largest amount that any U.S. Senate candidate had ever raised within the first 24 hours of their campaign. Approximately 69,000 donors contributed an average of $36.15 each to help McGrath break this record, her campaign manager said. And of the $2.5 million McGrath raised, her campaign reported that more than $1 million came rolling in within six hours of her candidacy announcement. Maybe this is a clue to just how badly Democrats want to unseat McConnell in 2020.
According to CNN, McGrath is a 44-year-old Kentucky Democrat who narrowly lost her Congressional race last year. During the 2018 midterm elections, she ran for the U.S. House against Republican Andy Barr in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. She ultimately lost that election by just three percentage points, Newsweek reported, but still made waves for holding her own in a district that predominantly voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
Before her foray into politics, however, McGrath spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, where she became the first woman to fly an F-18 in combat, per CNN. Throughout her career, McGrath reportedly flew nearly 90 combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, per Newsweek. In 2016, McGrath was named to the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame for her pursuit of military aviation.
In her campaign launch video, posted July 9, McGrath argued that McConnell “has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise, where dysfunction and chaos are political weapons, where budgets and health care and the Supreme Court are held hostage, a place where ideals go to die.” At the time of this article's publication, the campaign launch video had been viewed more than 4.7 million times on Twitter:
As of 2019, McConnell is one of the most prominent figures in American politics, and a notable leader for the Republican Party — making McGrath's challenge a pretty big deal. Currently the Senate Majority Leader, he has been one of Kentucky's senators since 1985, and in the time he has been in office, has served as the Senate Majority Whip and Senate Minority Leader, as well as his current role. As a political leader, he has frequently been a stumbling block to Democratic priorities like immigration and health care, and in 2016 famously blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. In a May 2019 interview with Politico, McConnell described himself as "the Grim Reaper when it comes to things like the 'Green New Deal' and 'Medicare for None.'”
Democrats have not had a significant amount of luck trying to unseat McConnell, but McGrath seems determined to change that.