Amy McGrath, a former U.S. Marine combat pilot whose compelling biography drew national attention during an unsuccessful Democratic congressional campaign last year, said on Tuesday that she will challenge Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020.
In a video announcing her campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, McGrath, 44, described writing a letter at age 13 to her senator, telling McConnell she wanted to become a fighter pilot even though women were barred from combat at the time – a story she also highlighted when running for the U.S. House of Representatives last year.
“I’ve often wondered how many other people did Mitch McConnell never take the time to write back, or even think about,” she said, before accusing McConnell of turning his back on his constituents.
In response, McConnell’s campaign released its own video using McGrath’s own words – including calling Republican President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall “stupid” and defending abortion rights – to portray her as too liberal for Kentucky, a state that Trump carried by 30 percentage points in 2016.
McConnell, who has served as one of Kentucky’s two U.S. senators for 35 years, has been the leader of Senate Republicans since 2007.
Despite middling approval ratings, he easily prevailed during his last campaign in 2014 over then-Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes.
McGrath spent 20 years in the Marines, flying 89 combat missions. She narrowly lost to Republican U.S. Representative Andy Barr in November.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Jonathan Oatis)