Kentucky Democrats Pick Ex-Fighter Pilot McGrath to Challenge US Senate Leader McConnell

 Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath said on Tuesday she was ready to take on Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after edging out a Black progressive to clinch the Democratic nomination for the seat.

McGrath, 45, held off fellow Democrat Charles Booker, a state legislator, who had surged late in the campaign as protests spread across the United States over police violence against Black people.

With all Kentucky’s counties reporting, McGrath won 45.4% of the vote to 42.6% for Booker, Kentucky officials said. The primary took place on June 23, but mailed ballots were accepted through Saturday, delaying the final results.

Booker conceded the race, but said he was concerned some Kentuckians could not check the status of their mailed ballots online.

“Let’s dedicate to the work of beating Mitch, so that we can get him out of the way,” Booker said in a statement.

McConnell, 78, the most powerful Republican in Congress and a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, is seeking a seventh six-year term.

“Last November, Kentuckians didn’t hesitate to replace an incompetent and unpopular incumbent. This November, we’re going to do it again,” McGrath wrote on Twitter, referring to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s 2019 defeat of Republican Matt Bevin.

McGrath won establishment Democrats’ backing early in her campaign, and raised a massive $41 million.

Emphasizing her military experience, she often stressed that she was the “only candidate who can win” against McConnell, who has represented Kentucky in the Senate for over three decades.

McGrath follows in the mold of a handful of freshmen Democratic women with national security experience who helped flip Republican House of Representatives seats in 2018. She spent 20 years in the Marines, flying 89 combat missions.

She faces an uphill battle against McConnell, said Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns.

“McGrath was a long shot before the competitive primary and is a long shot now that it’s over,” Gonzalez said, noting that Beshear’s victory came in a three-way race in which a Libertarian Party candidate, John Hicks, also won votes.

Kentucky is a conservative state that voted for Trump by 30 percentage points in 2016.

Republicans’ majority of 53 to 47 seats in the U.S. Senate is looking increasingly vulnerable in the Nov. 3 election, according to political analysts.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Kate Cooksey said in a statement that “Extreme Amy McGrath is lucky to have gotten out of the primary with a victory,” and called McGrath “just another tool of the Washington Democratic establishment who has no idea what matters most to Kentuckians.”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Sonya Hepinstall, Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)


  1. McGrath got 243,709 votes with $41M, plus party endorsements.

    Booker got 243,709 votes with $783K.

    Mike Broihier split the progressive vote taking up to 26,883 away from defeating McGrath.

    1. When I saw that 2 far-left candidates were in the same primary against a moderate D, I saw that outcome as a probability. But only one, Booker, had the endorsement of Sanders and AOC.
      But hey, they both got the name recognition you wanted.

      1. Booker had a good start with recognition with his career, but the media ignored him 100% for the last three days. It takes a village to elect a progressive.

      1. Very true—-But not as much luck as a candidate with the endorsement of AOC & Sanders attempting to defeat McConnell.

        1. Booker would have had an immensely better chance than a Trump-supporting conservative-lite Democrat. She is likely to get slaughtered (at the polls).

          Why would ANY American Fascist want to vote for HER? That makes no sense, not when they can easily vote for Moscow Mitch and get way more of what they like, even though they hate him.

          1. WHAT state do you vote in that a far-left D has a chance of replacing a Republican?

          2. What you call the far-left is now the center of the people, so when big-money stops corrupting our political systems and politicians, the DNC and are system stop pumping money into districts to oppose progressive candidates who are leading, with terrible hand-picked candidates; when the media give progressives a fair shake; when gerrymandering and elect suppression are reversed; when voters wise-up to that fact that they need to vote more in their own best interest; this country will be able to elect the politicians that we need and deserve. Right now, it is a slow uphill battle.

            For now, we keep on getting in our own way. Voting for expanding a state’s health care system should not be anywhere near a 1% difference between yay or nay.

            We are screwed, for a while longer than I had hoped, back in 2016, but we will get there.

            Moscow Mitch would be a pussy meeting opposition from a real populist, such as a Charles Booker. It’s just that majority of the voters that he needs will never pay any attention to their futures, now. It was really close though.


          3. Scott, you haven’t said anything that explains why you feel across the board the voters of Kentucky are going to throw their deeply seeded religious, pro gun, low taxes, libertarian roots to the wind and suddenly become a progressive left supporter who aggressively votes against ALL things they previously supported.

            Especially when the progressive candidate couldn’t even convert enough DEMOCRATS to get past a primary?

          4. Yes, I did. There are many hills to climb for a progressive before more of them can show what really can be done.

            The whole Democratic Party apparatus is set up to oppose progressive change. They will oppose a progressive MORE aggressively than they will someone from the American Fascist Party because more elected progressives mean that THEY must change. They don’t want that MORE THAN just letting an AFP candidate win. (Don’t worry, the AFP do the same thing for the same reason – stop change at all costs.) Democratic Party leadership are willing to lose and stay in opposition, if it means that they can keep the corruption going FOR THEMSELVES.

            So, if the party actually got behind progressive candidates instead of opposing them, we already would have many more elected starting from 2018. But they don’t want that. They have done everything that they can think of to stop more AOCs from getting elected, so progress is slow.

            Hillary Clinton popped her head up only once, so far, to endorse her FIRST 2020 candidate. A terrible 14-term old codger, Eliot Engle. Why would she do that? To keep the corrupt system rolling along, NOT because he was doing such a tremendous job supporting his constituents. He ignores them. Fortunately, Engle’s time came to an abrupt end.

            One step at a time. The party ship needs to be boarded and the captains made to walk the plank.

          5. No, you didn’t.

            If Democrats are unwilling to change. Why would you believe Republicans are willing to make an even more drastic change?

            Your making complaints about ideology when the fact is, if a Republican really believed in a progressive candidate they would have voted in the primary to support that candidate.

            You CAN change your party. This candidate just didn’t inspire anyone to do so.

          6. You are wrong, Phoenix. Charles Booker punched way above his funding weight and had a split-progressive vote cut into his chances. He could have won easily if the party had fully backed him instead of a Trump-supporting McGrath.

            You see a glass as half empty. I don’t. I see the small advances, such as Oklahomans finally voting in their best interest, by approving expanding Medicaid, as progress. Slow, but still a realization that this country is messed up and that THEY have to do something different, to be able to fix it, to protect themselves.

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