The Kentucky Senate race between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his likely Democratic opponent Amy McGrath is shaping up to be one of the tightest, most contentious and expensive contests of the 2020 election cycle.
Polls have shown the race to be incredibly close, with the candidates either being tied or separated by single digits.
In a Change Research poll conducted earlier this year, McGrath and McConnell were deadlocked at 41 percent support among likely voters. In another survey from Garin-Hart-Yang, McConnell was ahead of McGrath by 3 percentage points—although his victory was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Still, it could be too early to tell—for now, nonpartisan election forecasters estimate that the race will go to McConnell. The Cook Political Report has rated the election as “likely Republican.” Sabato’s Crystal Ball from the University of Virginia has also favored the contest as “safely Republican.”
Before she can take McConnell head-on, McGrath still has to win the state’s Democratic primary. There are still two other candidates in the running, progressive farmer Mike Broihier and state representative Charles Booker. The contest was scheduled for May has been pushed back to June 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She’s also the most prolific fundraisers among Democrats with more than $14 million cash on hand. She even outraised McConnell by more than $5 million in the first three months of 2020, according to the latest federal campaign finance data.
So far this year, McGrath hauled in $12.8 million in contributions compared with McConnell’s $7.8 million. McConnell still has roughly the same amount of cash on hand as McGrath, with $14.8 million in the bank.
The massive amount of fundraising has spurred an ad war between McConnell and McGrath that dates back to the summer of 2019—an entire year before Election Day. McConnell’s latest ad, which aired statewide, slammed McGrath and touted his work on the coronavirus relief packages.
“Amy McGrath attacks Mitch McConnell for leading passage of the biggest economic rescue in American history. But while McGrath attacks, Mitch is working across the aisle to get hundreds of millions in federal dollars for Kentucky’s hospitals,” a narrator said in the video. “McGrath attacks. Mitch McConnell leads.”
McGrath fired back with an ad of her own, in which she called out McConnell’s controversial comment on favoring state bankruptcy amid the pandemic. The top Senate Republican has been under fire from governors on both sides of the aisle after he floated the idea of states declaring bankruptcy rather than passing another half-trillion-dollar coronavirus bill.
“Special interests win, we lose,” the narrator said in the 30-second ad.
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