Owensboro received a visit from Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Amy McGrath Friday afternoon, where the hopeful U.S. Senate candidate for the Democratic Party discussed her political platform, her hopes for Kentucky and her desire to take down incumbent candidate Mitch McConnel (Rep.)
After a meet-and-greet held at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn with dozens of local residents who came in support of McGrath, the former Marine fighter pilot talked politics with Owensboro Times.
INTERVIEW WITH McGRATH
Katie: You’re very popular with the Democrats in Daviess County, and a lot of them are pulling for you to win the 2020 election. Why do you think you’ve garnered so much support in western Kentucky?
McGrath: I think it’s the idea that people are hungry for a candidate who is going to work with any president, regardless of whether he or she (someday) has a red jersey or a blue jersey. People are tired of the dysfunction. They want somebody to stand up and do what’s right for Kentucky and take the political party stuff and just make it secondary. I always tell people, ‘Look, I’m a Democrat, but I’m an American first.’ My husband’s a lifelong Republican, but you know what? He’s an American first. And we need people in this country who you can trust do what’s right. I think that’s what fires people up.
Katie: So you’re saying people are ready to elect someone who represents them with the ability to cross party lines in doing so?
McGrath: How many people are so tired of trying to make the other side fail? And in the process, it hurts us. That’s not what our democracy is about. Our democracy is about coming together and doing things for the good of the country, which is what I did when I was serving in the United States Marine Corps. You know, never in my life when I served did I say to the marine on my left, or the marine on my right, ‘Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Oh, if you’re of the other party, I can’t do this mission with you.’ Come on.
We need leaders who get it. And I’m a firm believer that, frankly, we need a new generation of leaders. I mean, Mitch McConnell has been in office for 35 years. He’s disconnected with Kentucky, and it’s just not what the founders envisioned. We need to do better than that.
Katie: In your opinion, is there a connection between his 35 years in office and Kentucky ranking so low nationwide in almost every category? Health, education, economy, mental health — we just ranked last in best states to retire.
McGrath: If you think about it — on Mitch McConnell’s watch, Kentucky hasn’t done anything better in so many areas. And this idea that he’s such a powerful senator and brings so much to the state…well, you know what — where? Where? Look around.
In all the major issues that affect peoples’ daily lives — prescription drug prices, where he will do nothing on it. He’s actually holding up six bi-partisan bills in the House right now from getting to President Trump’s desk to bring down prescription drug prices. Mitch McConnell won’t do anything about healthcare. He said infrastructure is a non-starter in the Senate. These are bigger, broader issues, and we need a senator to go to Washington to represent who we are.
Katie: What’s it like to go up against someone who’s got 35 years under his belt?
McGrath: Well, I think that’s the whole point, right? He’s been around for 35 years, and he’s disconnected with Kentucky. He doesn’t care about Kentucky. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. I mean, we have people who have to decide whether they’re paying rent or paying for their prescription drug prices. Six bi-partisan bills have been passed in the House — how could you not even allow a vote or debate on the Senate floor? If you were so connected to Kentucky, how could you do that? It’s clear he’s part of a Washington system. He’s part of the swamp. And, you know, he needs to go.
Katie: Coal is a hot-ticket item in western Kentucky. Where do you stand on this?
McGrath: Coal powered this country, and we owe it back to coal communities to have a senator who’s going to go to Washington to invest in the future. And also, take care of our miners. I mean, the fact that Mitch McConnell would only extend the Black Lung Trust Fund for one year — I mean, he cut taxes for the big corporations permanently. He could’ve fixed this then, and he didn’t. We need to protect our coal communities that powered this country.
Katie: What’s the biggest issue facing Kentucky right now?
McGrath: Healthcare. I hear it everywhere I go. Prescription drug prices are way too high. The opioid crisis, which has affected our workforce, our families’ lives, children’s’ lives. Infrastructure is another big, important issue. And good, quality jobs where people can actually make a living. At the end of the day, you’re a public school teacher in Kentucky and you’re having to work three jobs to make ends meet? Come on, man. We have to elect leaders that actually get it.
There’s more people registered to vote this year than ever before, and there are more Democrats registered to vote in Kentucky than Republicans. Is this exciting for you?
It is exciting. I feel that so many people, myself included, have been disenfranchised with the lack of leadership, and the lack of good candidates that we’ve had running for office. I feel that people want to be inspired and, at the end of the day, they just want to vote for someone they can trust, who can put their country — our country, Kentucky — above their political party, and that’s just something that Mitch McConnell cannot do.
Out of 10 candidates vying to win the Democratic primary in May, McGrath is the current frontrunner, meaning she’s likely to face McConnell in the upcoming U.S. Senate election in November.
If McGrath wins the November election, it will end a 35-year run for McConnell, who is known as longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving leader of U.S. Senate Republicans in history.