Breaking News
More () »

Little Rock's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Little Rock, Arkansas | THV11.com

McGrath's in the race, but can she beat McConnell?

Analysts react to Senate race
Credit: Amy McGrath
Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath stands beside an F/A-18 in Virginia Beach, where she was part of a squadron in 2007. McGrath was the first woman to fly an F/A-18 in combat for the Marine Corps. (Amy McGrath)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- She nearly knocked off a Republican incumbent congressman last fall, now Democrat Amy McGrath is taking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Her announcement Tuesday drew a lot of attention, not just for entering the race but also the direction she headed on take-off.

Amy McGrath took her message to MSNBC's Morning Joe moments after tweeting her highly produced introduction video in which she describes writing her Senator as a young girl asking why women were not allowed in combat. That Senator was Mitch McConnell. He didn't write back. 

McGrath would become a trailblazing fighter pilot and narrowly lost a bid against Congressman Andy Barr in 2018 painting herself as a progressive. On Morning Joe, she called herself a "moderate" and described watching the recent Democratic presidential debates with her Republican husband.

“There were times when my husband and I looked at each other during the debates and we were concerned that many of the candidates were pulling a little too far left from where we are, you know, because we're both moderates. We're like most Americans, we get along and we just want reasonable solutions for some of these things,” McGrath said.

Veteran Democratic strategist Bob Gunnell would not call McGrath's opening appearance a "mistake" but suggests she has to be clearer in her messaging, especially if she’s going to change the tone.

“If this moderate message works, if the reinvention of herself works, then I think she has a shot at it, but that is yet to be seen,” Gunnell said.

McConnell's campaign team looked to ground McGrath's excitement, releasing their own video of her progressive statements from last campaign.

Republican strategist Julia Crigler agrees with Gunnell in that Amy McGrath must attract big support from Jefferson and Fayette Counties and win over rural Democrats who have been voting Republican, but she saw this opening salvo as a poor shot by the fighter pilot.

“This kind of political identity crisis out of the gate is certainly interesting and perplexing to voters,” Crigler said.

Mitch McConnell faced Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in 2014, a race pollsters predicted would be close. McConnell won by 15 points.

Amy McGrath is hoping for smoother skies, but time will tell if she faces opposition in the Democratic primary before flying into the General Election in 2020.