Battleground: Kentucky

By Ryan Rosenberger

We are closing in on Nov. 3, the day we will tally votes for the upcoming election. Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to maintain a sizable lead in the polls over democratic party challenger Amy McGrath.

According to a September poll done by Data for Progress — a left-leaning think tank — McConnell holds a seven point lead over McGrath. McConnell’s lead is substantially bigger than that in a Morning Consult poll from the same time period, which showed McConnell holds a 15 point lead.

However, that doesn’t mean McGrath isn’t making a last-minute push to oust the United States’ longest serving senator, and Senate Majority Leader.

McGrath recently won an endorsement from the editorial board of one of the states’ biggest newspapers, the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“During his 36 years in office, McConnell has made it perfectly clear that this only is the pursuit of power, his own and of the Republican Party,” the editorial board wrote in its endorsement. “For that reason alone, we would endorse his opponent. Luckily for voters, McGrath, a former fighter pilot and public servant, would make an excellent senator who would actually put the needs and interests of Kentuckians above her own.”

The newspaper went on to cite issues such as McConnell’s coronavirus response and McGrath’s desire to build on the Affordable Care Act as additional reasons for their endorsement.

Along with the endorsement, McGrath has been beating McConnell on the fundraising circuit as well. According to The Courier-Journal, McGrath out-funded McConnell in the most recent quarter, out fundraising him by more than $6 million.

But what are the key issues that both candidates are running on?

The Courier-Journal asked both candidates what their number one priority is if they get elected. McConnell said his biggest goal is to uphold commonly held conservative beliefs such as protecting the Second Amendment, keeping taxes low and to “defend the rights of unborn children.”

McGrath, meanwhile, had a much different answer to the same question asked by The Courier-Journal.

“Tackling the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. Mitch McConnell has failed every step of the way — from prioritizing a $500 billion slush fund to bail out big corporations in his relief bill to shutting down the Senate for 25 days without getting a second stimulus bill done,” McGrath said. We need to get every American access to health care, we need to get our economy going again, and we can’t do that until we get this crisis under control. That requires a national test-and-trace program to slow the spread and equipping our schools with the infrastructure to reopen safely.”

The most important thing is helping small businesses and Kentucky families through the ongoing economic crisis that was spurred by the pandemic, McGrath said.

The Courier-Journal also asked both candidates about their stances on a variety of other issues, including boosting the economy during the pandemic, systemic racism in light of Breonna Taylor homicide, and criminal justice reform within police departments.

On the economic stimulus front, McConnell touted the notion that he led the charge in getting the CARES act enacted, saying it made a $12 billion impact on Kentucky’s economy, which included $3.8 billion in direct payments to over 2 million Kentucky citizens. He also has led the charge in trying to push through another round of stimulus as well, McConnell said.

On systemic racism, McGrath said the United States needs a “comprehensive and community-based” approach to addressing systemic racism, and said her policies include closing the wealth gap, equal investment in public schools, expanding voting rights for all and equity in the state healthcare system.

4 thoughts on “Battleground: Kentucky

  1. Great coverage of the issues in this race! It’s interesting to me how a U.S. Senate race in Kentucky has such a bearing on how national politics play out because of how powerful Sen. Mitch McConnell is.


  2. The fact that McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader is facing some heat from McGrath points to a sea change in Kentucky, and perhaps in the country as a whole. This race epitomizes the current battle taking place in America between traditional conservative viewpoints and an emerging progressive electorate. It be will interesting to see how the results of this race correlate to trends nationwide.


  3. I’m wondering just how much effect his refusal to take up new COVID-19 stimulus legislation will have on voters. Between the consistent partisan messaging and how staunchly red parts of Kentucky are, I suspect a sizable amount of McConnell’s base will vote Republican the whole way down simply because that’s what they do.


  4. One thing I noticed was the wording in the beginning of the fifth paragraph. You say “McConnell has made it perfectly clear that his only is the pursuit of power” I would clean that up a little. His only what is the pursuit of power? Overall nice job Ryan.


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