A group that wants to topple Mitch McConnell joins efforts to recruit Amy McGrath

Former Marine fighter pilot is seen as rising Democratic star despite unsuccessful 2018 House bid

Amy McGrath,who lost a 2018 challenge to Rep. Andy Barr, is being recruited by a group that wants her to try to topple Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An advocacy group devoted to toppling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is joining Democrats’ efforts to recruit Amy McGrath to run for his Kentucky Senate seat. 

The left-leaning Ditch Mitch Fund said in a press release Tuesday that it had collected donations from 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 24 hours since The (Louisville) Courier-Journal first reported that the group had created a website to encourage McGrath to enter the race.  McGrath is a retired Marine fighter pilot who is seen as a rising star in the party in spite of her unsuccessful bid last cycle against Republican Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th District. 

“There is incredible grassroots energy for Amy McGrath to run against Mitch McConnell,” said Ryan Aquilina, executive director of the Ditch Mitch Fund. “We had one of our best days ever in terms of fundraising, and that proves in no uncertain terms just how much appetite there is for Amy to run and to defeat Mitch McConnell.”

National Democrats have been aggressively courting McGrath to run for the seat, but her team has not said whether she has made a decision. A call to her campaign headquarters was not immediately returned Tuesday. 

McGrath’s House campaign attracted national attenion with a viral web video introducing her candidacy. She won the Democratic primary by beating Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, whom national Democrats had recruited to run against her.

By the end of the general election campaign, she’d raised about $8.6 million. She fell 3 points short of unseating Barr in a district that backed President Donald Trump by 15 points. Barr had won his 2016 race by 22 points. 

The Ditch Mitch Fund was formed last October and had raised almost $130,000 by December, according to its most recent FEC filings. Aquilina said in an email the fund has already received “over 20,000 online donations.”

All the money the group raises for McGrath would be immediately transferred to her campaign as soon as she announces her candidacy, according to the press release. 

The McConnell campaign did not respond to a request for comment by the Courier-Journal. 

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