amy mcgrath
Credit: Amy McGrath for Congress/YouTube

Amy McGrath is running for Congress in Kentucky’s 6th District against incumbent Republican Andy Barr. She’s getting a lot of attention for releasing a fantastic introductory ad.

The Cook Political Report rates Kentucky’s 6th as R+9. Romney won it 56-42 and Trump 55-39. Barr won re-election in 2014 and 2016 by 20 points. Even so, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway won the 6th 49-46 while he was losing statewide 53-44, and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray carried it 52-48 while he was losing his 2016 Senate bid to GOP incumbent Rand Paul 57-43. According to data complied from special elections in 2017 by Matt Yglesias, that would put McGrath right on the edge of a possible win in 2018.

As of today, McGrath hasn’t posted policy positions on her web site. But in addition to what she said in the ad, here are the basics of her message.

The public deserves leaders who are grounded in integrity and brave enough to tell them the truth, instead of misleading them into thinking that quick fixes are right around the corner.

We must have members of Congress willing to stand up to partisanship, divisiveness and duplicity, and meet our challenges head on, always putting country before politics.

What I love about the ad above is that McGrath is doing exactly what I suggested a few weeks ago…tying Barr to Mitch McConnell. Here’s how she put it:

I’m running for Congress against Andy Barr in my home state of Kentucky. He’s Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked congressman who said he would vote enthusiastically to take health care away from over a quarter million Kentuckians.

All she needs to do now is pair that message with her line about politicians who put country before politics (i.e., McConnell) and we’re off to the races.

I recognize that part of the reason McGrath is targeting McConnell is because she’s running for Congress in his home state. I also know that simply targeting the Senate Majority Leader is not enough of a message for Democrats in 2018. But there are two reasons why it is important to make him a focus of the 2018 midterms:

  1. Regardless of individual candidates, it is important for people to know that when they vote for a Republican, they are voting to put McConnell and Ryan in charge again. The message is, “if you don’t like what’s going on in Congress, vote for a Democrat.”
  2. McConnell is singularly responsible for tearing down Senate norms and playing power games that put party wins over the country’s challenges. The most effective way to speak out against that is to make him a target for his assault on our democratic values.

There will be a lot of races to follow in 2018. But McGrath just put herself right up there with candidates like Randy Bryce, who also came out of the gate with a fantastic introductory ad in his race to defeat Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

As a point of personal privilege, I’ll end by noting that Angie Craig has announced that she will run against former radio shock jock and Trump mini-me Jason Lewis in my home district (MN 2nd). She narrowly lost to him by less than 2 points in 2016 and is a tough, smart Democrat.

Each of these candidates will bring their own background and message to the 2018 midterms. But it’s clear that Democrats are ready to stand up and fight to take Congress back.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.