(Story By Jeff Ledington, The Mountain Advocate)
Lt. Col Amy McGrath is a Kentucky native and veteran of three combat tours. She says she wants to go to Washington “for Kentucky, not big interests.” McGrath has pulled in record fundraising halls and touted that she’s received donations from every county in the state.
“I’m a Kentuckian, I was raised here and left home at the age of 18 to join the military,” McGrath said of her Kentucky roots. After a two decade career, she and her husband, a Navy veteran and a Republican, moved their family back to the bluegrass. “I’m running because we need better leaders in Kentucky,” she stated. She added that her experience has taught her what public service is about and what common sense is.
McGrath says she’s “pro-Kentucky,” and called out Mitch McConnell for his tires to special interest. “I’m running because I want lower drug prices, term limits for folks going to Washington, better healthcare, better jobs, especially for people in Southeastern Kentucky,” she stated. She says McConnell’s campaign has been fueled by big interest like the pharmaceutical industry “to the detriment of Kentucky.”
McGrath asked Knox Countians to “Look around,” continuing that things haven’t gotten any better under McConnell. She said her focus for the Southeast Kentucky area would be on jobs, especially infrastructure. “we need to have broadband,” she stated and mentioned that %53 percent of Knox County homes don’t have access; a statistic recently reported on by the Mountain Advocate. “Businesses are not going to come to places that don’t have connection to the modern world,” she added. She compared the need for broadband to the effects of the Interstate Highway System.
McGrath stated she would also be focused on healthcare and the opioid epidemic “that is hurting us, it’s hurting our families, it’s hurting our economy.” She said McConnell wasn’t “meaningfully” attacking the situation at all.
McGrath says she believes everyone should have the right to healthcare “because if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything.” She says as the richest nation on Earth we should be able to figure healthcare out. Lowering prescription drug costs is a major focus and she stated “Mitch McConnell is holding up six bipartisan bills that have passed the house to get prescription drug prices down.” She continued that his reasoning was easy to figure out and said to “follow the money.” She later mentioned that lower prescription drug prices was a major goal of President Trump that. McConnell was blocking.
McGrath says she is for “common sense solutions.” She stated, “I don’t think we should restructure our entire healthcare system and force people that like their coverage on to some big government plan.” She continued that she thinks we should have a government option, something she called the “Uncle Sam Plan.” The plan would be a public option similar to what she and her husband have from being in the military, “I think you and everyone in Knox County should have that option too.” McGrath’s would be a non-profit plan and “if you don’t want it you can buy your own plan.”
“People are tired of Mitch McConnell,” McGrath said regarding her record fundraising numbers. She stated she had received donations from every county in the state within a couple of weeks of launching her campaign. “People do want to drain the swamp,” she says, “but you can’t drain the swamp until you get rid of the guy that built the swamp.”
McGrath also credited her message of putting the country and Kentucky above political parties as a major reason for her support. “I’m a Democrat, my husband’s a lifelong Republican but we’re Americans First,” she said. “I don’t see things through a political lens; I see things as a wife, a mother, and being a United States Marine for 20 years,” she stated.
McGrath says she favors term-limits; stating such limits would allow politicians to focus on governance instead of reelection. “If I get in their I’m going to be for Kentucky, I’m not going to be trying to please donors,” she said. She added term-limits are important to the end of focusing on Kentucky and not special interests.
Part of McGrath’s strategy is to “remind people just how bad Mitch McConnell has been for Kentucky.” She asked of McConnell, “when he had all the power; his party had congress and the presidency, did he try to tackle the opioid crisis in Eastern Kentucky?…infrastructure?..getting good quality jobs?” She stated the answer to all three questions was “no.” She continued that the only thing he did during that time was “pass a big fat tax cut for people just like him.”
“I am a gun owner, I’m somebody who has been a United States Marine for 20 years, I’ve shot just about every weapon you can think of at least once,” McGrath said when asked about guns. She continued,” I’m a gun owner, I don’t want yours I’ve got my own.” She said she supports the second amendment and the right to own guns. “I’m for better background checks…we want to make sure bad people don’t get their hands on these weapons,” she stated, “the rest of us who are good, we don’t want our right getting infringed.”
“I’m pro-Kentucky, and I’m pro our country,” McGrath stated. She added that as a senator one swears an oath to the constitution, “not the president, not a political party.” She added she’d sworn that oath six times already, each time she was promoted. “I want to do what’s right for Kentucky,” she stated. “I’m going to be for what the president wants when it’s right for Kentucky and unlike Mitch McConnell I will have the guts to stand up to the president whether they wear a red jersey or a blue jersey when it comes to Kentucky and the constitution,” McGrath stated.
“I think Governor Beshear’s response has been good,” McGrath said of the state’s pandemic response. She praised his prioritizing of public health and said Beshear is taking the state’s reopening seriously. McGrath called out McConnell on the virus response, saying even though he receives the highest intelligence briefings that he waited until the stock market tanked to say anything. She also stated he held up the first coronavirus relief bill for 48 hours “so big pharma could potentially gouge prices.” She continued that McConnell later advised the state to declare bankruptcy in the midst of the pandemic and talked about how state workers would lose their pensions.
McGrath says the issue of coal has been used as a political football by people on both sides of the aisle for way to long. “Our leaders including Mitch McConnell never spent any meaningful time or energy planning or the day coal wouldn’t rule the day,” she stated. She added that McConnell campaigned with the president in 2016 that the “war on coal” was over and that the jobs would be back, then admitted late that the “coal jobs weren’t coming back.” She added that the decline of coal was because of changes in the market; renewables, natural gas, and fracking which she stated was “championed by McConnell.”
“I want to make sure the hard working miners and their families have access to jobs in the future,” McGrath said, adding we need to diversify the economy. She specifically mentioned bringing back manufacturing jobs that use lumber shipped from Kentucky. She also reiterated her call for improving infrastructure in the area. She also stated she wants to protect miner’s social security and the Black Lung trust fund “that McConnell has used against them.”
“Does he come and listen? Is he actually doing anything to help?” asked McGrath. “I’m someone that has served this country. I care deeply about Kentucky, about America. I’m a wife, a mother of three small kids; I want a better future for our children,” she stated. “If Mitch McConnell has all the answers, don’t you think things would be looking better by now?” McGrath asked in closing.