A liberal-leaning advocacy organization is launching an online campaign to recruit Democrat Amy McGrath to run against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020.
The Ditch Mitch Fund, a political action group, announced Monday it is creating a “Draft Amy” website to inspire the former Marine to enter next year’s contest.
This comes weeks after reports surfaced that McGrath, who lost her Kentucky congressional bid last fall, is being courted by top Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, to run against Kentucky’s top Republican.
In addition to the website and digital ads, Ditch Mitch Fund is pledging that any money it raises will be immediately transferred to McGrath’s future campaign if she decides to run.
“Our mission is to hold Mitch McConnell accountable,” Ryan Aquilina, the group’s executive director, told the Courier Journal on Monday. “And part of this campaign we’re doing is to show her and everyone else that grassroots Democrats are going to be there for her; we’re going to show up and raise money.”
The McConnell campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
McGrath’s name has been bounced around as a possible contender for the Democratic nomination since her failed effort in November to knock off U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
Since then she has posted pointed criticisms on social media aimed at McConnell. When the GOP leader said he wasn’t allowing a vote on a House Democratic proposal aimed at reforming U.S. elections, including a provision that would make Election Day a federal holiday, McGrath called out the senator.
“He doesn’t want to vote on something smart that could help more Americans exercise their right to vote and begin to get excessive special interest money out of politics,” she said in a March 10 tweet. “Why? Very simple — he benefits from a more corrupt and less voter friendly system, always has.”
He doesn’t want to vote on something smart that could help more Americans exercise their right to vote and begin to get excessive special interest money out of politics. Why? Very simple – he benefits from a more corrupt and less voter friendly system, always has.
A month earlier, McGrath took a swipe at McConnell for not speaking out more forcefully against President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration at the border. She said his legacy will be defined by “strengthening of one branch of (government) while surrendering congressional authority to the other.”
Those comments have caught the eye of GOP strategists and McConnell supporters. Republican consultant Josh Holmes, who served as McConnell’s campaign manager in 2014, taunted McGrath in a reply tweet: “Get in the ring, champ.”
Mark Nickolas, a McGrath aide, did not respond to a Courier Journal request for comment about the new website. Other Democrats who have been mentioned as potential candidates are Matt Jones, host of Kentucky Sports Radio, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
Aquilina said if McGrath doesn’t enter the 2020 race, the group will support the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, and provide them with financial backing.
But he reiterated that his group believes McGrath is the best candidate to challenge McConnell because of her compelling personal story and real grassroots support. He said her failure to surf the national Democratic “blue wave” to victory shouldn’t be seen as a drawback either.
“I hear all the time this idea that because Amy lost her race that makes her a weak candidate,” Aquilina said. “When we look at it, it looks to me that Mitch McConnell is a weaker candidate than Andy Barr.”
Ditch Mitch Fund points to a recent survey that it paid Public Policy Polling to conduct, which shows 33 percent of 748 registered voters in Kentucky said they did not approve of McConnell’s job performance. The poll also found 61 percent of those voters think it’s “time for someone new” to take the seat. It had margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.
Similar polls showed McConnell’s high disapproval ratings. McConnell is expected to use his relationship with President Donald Trump — who remains popular in Kentucky — as an asset for re-election.