Campaign

McGrath outraises McConnell in first quarter

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Democratic opponent Amy McGrath outraised the longtime Republican senator in the first quarter of 2020 as Kentucky's Senate race emerges as one of the most expensive battles of the election cycle.

McGrath, who has received a litany of endorsements from national Democratic figures, reported raising $12.8 million in the first three months of 2020 and ended the period with $14.7 million cash on hand. McConnell hauled in $7.5 million and finished the first quarter of the year with $14.9 million in the bank in his bid for a seventh Senate term.

Both contenders leaned heavily on small-dollar donors - the average donation to McGrath amounted to $37, and the average contribution to McConnell totaled $33.

McGrath's haul is a gargantuan total for any Senate candidate, particularly a nonincumbent, and follows several other strong quarters. Though the Kentucky Democrat still has to win a primary race against state Rep. Charles Booker and Lincoln county farmer Mike Broihier, she is still the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination and face off against McConnell in November.

"What our numbers show is that voters are fed up with Mitch McConnell continually putting corporate handouts ahead of working people," the McGrath campaign said in a statement. "After 35 years of Mitch McConnell putting partisan politics and special interests ahead of doing what's right for the country, working Americans don't trust his leadership and are demanding new leaders like Amy McGrath who they know will have their back." 

McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, gained national prominence in 2018 after she narrowly lost a challenge against Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) in a GOP-leaning House district.

McConnell has also emerged as a top target for Democrats who have railed against his oversight of the Senate floor, with many citing the rapidity with which he's confirmed President Trump's judicial nominees.

Nevertheless, the Senate majority leader will be a tough foe for McGrath. McConnell won reelection in 2014 by a nearly 15-point margin in a deep red state and has strong financial backing from an avalanche of outside groups, including a recently-announced investment from the top Senate Republican super PAC for $10.8 million in Kentucky advertisements. 

McConnell's campaign expressed confidence that Kentuckians would reelect him, saying voters want for a steady hand in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and citing his work to pass a $2.2 trillion relief package.

"Kentuckians know that at a time of great consequence, there is no substitute for the proven leadership of Mitch McConnell," McConnell's campaign manager Kevin Golden said in a statement Tuesday. "The enthusiasm from across the Bluegrass State to uphold our conservative values and reelect Senator McConnell will only grow as Election Day approaches." 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as "Likely" Republican.

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