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The 2020 Senate elections will take place on Election Day alongside the presidential election, and one Senate race has massive potential to change the country’s future. Democrat Amy McGrath from Kentucky is running against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is the longest-serving senator from Kentucky in U.S. history since he first entered the Senate in 1985. McGrath is fighting hard for the seat, but will she beat McConnell?
Who is Amy McGrath?
McGrath is a 44-year-old former fighter Marine pilot and the first woman to fly an F-18 in combat. Additionally, she flew more than 85 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. McGrath’s military history gave her a platform, and she became more popular because she was vocally anti-Trump. She entered politics two years ago after her 20-year military career: In the 2018 election, she was a Democratic nominee for Kentucky’s 6th congressional district, and she narrowly lost to incumbent Republican Andy Barr.
On June 30, McGrath narrowly surpassed Democratic candidate and state representative Charles Booker in the Kentucky Senate race. Booker is known for becoming the youngest Black state lawmaker elected in Kentucky in nearly a century. McGrath won the race due to closed poll sites and thousands of absentee ballots mailed in after Booker had surged in the polls.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supported McGrath’s Senate campaign, and she raised approximately $41 million. After a fundraising haul brought in by Schumer’s establishment-aligned endorsements, Booker criticized McGrath for her absence at police brutality protests — including protests regarding the March police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman from Booker’s hometown of Louisville.
McGrath has recently attempted to change her tune and visited a memorial honoring Taylor after three officers involved in Taylor’s murder were not indicted. McGrath has demanded that the Kentucky Attorney General release the full grand jury report for Taylor’s case.
When was the last time Kentucky elected a Democratic senator?
There hasn’t been a Democratic senator from Kentucky since the reelection of Wendell Ford in 1992. In the Kentucky House of Representatives, as of September 2020, there are 38 Democratic representatives compared to 62 Republican representatives. Joni Jenkins is the Democratic Minority Leader, and Charles Booker is currently a Democratic representative for District 43.
What are the polls saying?
Recent polls have shown that McConnell has a seven-point lead over McGrath despite her massive record-breaking fundraiser to defeat him. After the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and McConnell’s push for a new nominee to fill Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, Democrats donated over $42 million to McGrath’s campaign.
McGrath’s campaign, called “Get Mitch or Die Trying,” is led by a non-profit that funds left-leaning groups and campaigns. The nonprofit donates money to swing-state campaigns in which Republicans are defending seats from Democratic challengers and could be at risk of losing a majority. Many donors want to boost McGrath in her challenge against McConnell, but others have said the money would be better spent elsewhere. Nevertheless, McGrath remains active in her attempt to win McConnell’s Senate seat.