Amy McGrath standing in front of fighter jet
Lt. Col. Amy McGrath | Photo via the campaign website

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath announced in a campaign video Tuesday morning that she will run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky next year, taking on six-term incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McGrath — who served 20 years in the Marines and flew 89 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan — recounts writing a letter at age 13 to Sen. McConnell asking him to help overturn the law banning women from combat so she can be a fighter pilot, saying that “he never wrote back.”

Referring to his 35 years in the Senate, McGrath added that McConnell “has bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”

McGrath ran for Congress last year in Kentucky’s Sixth District, winning the Democratic primary over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray but losing a close race in the general election against incumbent Congressman Andy Barr, who defeated her by 3% and less than 10,000 votes. Her campaign raised over $8 million in that race, boosted by her viral announcement video detailing her career in the Marines.

Along with the video, McGrath’s campaign released a poll of 1,629 likely voters in the state showing McConnell only leading her 47% to 45%.

In an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday morning to talk about her candidacy, McGrath also suggested that McConnell is obstructing the policy agenda of President Donald Trump, who remains popular in Kentucky.

“If you think about why Kentuckians voted for Trump, they wanted to drain the swamp, and Trump said that he was going to do that,” said McGrath. “Trump promised to bring back jobs, he promised to lower drug prices for so many Kentuckians, and that is very important. And who stops them along the way, who stops the president from doing these things? Well, Mitch McConnell.”

Two other little-known Democrats have announced a run for Senate next year — Jimmy Ausbrooks and Steven Cox — while former state Rep. Wesley Morgan also announced that he would challenge McConnell in the primary.

State House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones have both said that they are considering a Senate run on the Democratic side.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]