Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell

Retired Marine and previous Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath on Tuesday announced that she is launching a 2020 challenge against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Washington, Wall Street on edge about coronavirus Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding MORE (R) in Kentucky.

McGrath released a three-minute campaign video, titled "The Letter," that depicts her and other Kentuckians writing letters to their senator with concerns about health care, jobs and affordable college that were ignored. 

“Everything that’s wrong in Washington had to start some place. How did it come to this?” McGrath said in the video. “That even within our own families, we can’t talk to each other about the leaders of our country anymore without anger and blame.”

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She said McConnell “was elected a lifetime ago" and has "bit by bit, year by year — turned Washington into something we all despise.”

McGrath also claimed that “budgets and health care and the Supreme Court are held hostage” in a Congress led by the Republican leader who has been in the Senate since 1985.

“A place where ideals go to die,” she added.

“The challenge of today is inside each of us. How do we reconcile our belief in basic human decency with our anger at those who block progress at all costs?” McGrath asked in the campaign video. “There is a path to resetting our country's moral compass, where each of us is heard and we can become, once again, the moral and economic leader of a world in disarray.”

McGrath was one of the most prominent Democratic congressional candidates during last year's midterm elections. The former fighter pilot was one of the top fundraisers of the cycle and narrowly lost her bid to unseat Rep. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus Democrats slam GOP on drug prices in bilingual digital ads On the Trail: Forget the pundits, more electoral votes could be in play in 2020 MORE (R) in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBiden win in South Carolina could turn tide, say strategists Sanders blasts Trump for picking 'completely unqualified' Pence for coronavirus response Trump passes Pence a dangerous buck MORE (D-N.Y.) reportedly met with her at Democratic Party headquarters earlier this year to pitch her on the idea of launching a Senate bid against McConnell.

Kevin Golden, a spokesman for McConnell’s re-election campaign, knocked McGrath as an “extreme liberal who is far out of touch with Kentuckians.” 

“Comparing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress Newly released emails reveal officials' panic over loss of credibility after Trump's Dorian claims Lindsey Graham thanks Trump, bemoans 'never-ending bull----' at South Carolina rally  MORE’s election to 9/11, endorsing a government takeover of healthcare, and calling the wall ‘stupid’ is a heckuva platform that we will be delighted to discuss over the next sixteen months,” Golden said in a statement. 

Jesse Hunt, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, mocked McGrath’s entry into the race.

“Amy McGrath blew a suburban KY House race in 2018 despite spending huge amounts of money. Statewide in 2020 against @Team_Mitch will be infinitely more difficult,” Hunt wrote. “Why? She’s still the same person who called herself 'the most progressive person in Kentucky.'”

--Updated July 9 at 10:12 a.m.