FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — In a story Oct. 16 about a Congressional race in Kentucky, The Associated Press reported erroneously that there are 20 counties in the 6th Congressional district. The district has 19 counties.…
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — In a story Oct. 16 about a Congressional race in Kentucky, The Associated Press reported erroneously that there are 20 counties in the 6th Congressional district. The district has 19 counties.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Democrat has edge in expensive Kentucky congressional race
Democrat Amy McGrath has raised more money than Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district
By ADAM BEAM
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — In Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, where President Donald Trump won by more than 15 percentage points in 2016, Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr has raised more than $4 million for his re-election.
It would have been a record if it weren’t for his Democratic opponent.
Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, has raised more than $6 million since announcing her candidacy in August. She has spent more money — $4.9 million — than Barr has raised for his entire campaign. Her fundraising haul has helped turn what on paper should be a reliable Republican district into one of the closest competitions in the country, making it key to Democrats’ hopes of winning a majority in the House of Representatives for the final two years of Trump’s term.
“It is stunning,” said Mark Nickolas, McGrath’s campaign manager. “It’s something I’ve never seen before in politics.”
Massive spending is not new to Kentucky political races. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised more than $30 million for his 2014 re-election campaign. But this level of spending is new for Kentucky congressional races, where Republicans have dominated in recent years except for a seat in the Democratic stronghold of Louisville.
Barr’s campaign has criticized McGrath for accepting so many out-of-state donations. But McGrath’s campaign says most of their out-of-state donors are individuals making small contributions, not large donations from political action committees.
McGrath is spending the money in unorthodox ways. She has opened field offices in each of the district’s 19 counties, no matter the population. She has not run traditional attack ads, avoiding the spooky narrator voice and dark music that often dominates the airwaves this time of year. But plenty of outside groups have run negative ads on her behalf, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC and veterans groups like With Honor.
“It does surprise some people that a race in Kentucky in the Trump era is close,” said Dan Bayens, a Republican media consultant who has worked on Barr’s campaign in the past but is not involved this year. “To me, that’s more to Amy’s credit. It’s not like Andy underestimated the competition here. He was well prepared, well-funded. He works really hard.”
Barr’s campaign has criticized McGrath for
Barr’s campaign has portrayed McGrath as “too liberal for Kentucky,” with each ad featuring a quote from McGrath at a fundraising event where she said, “I am further left, I am more progressive, than anyone in the state of Kentucky.”
“The national liberal ‘resistance’ and extreme left are funding Amy McGrath’s campaign because she’ll be another vote for Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda,” Barr campaign spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said.
Despite McGrath’s overall fundraising advantage, she and Barr have lots of money left to spend in the final weeks of the campaign. McGrath reported $1.7 million cash on hand while Barr reported nearly $1.3 million. Nickolas said he expects McGrath to continue raising money at a record pace until election day. He said it was “mind boggling” to have this much money to spend, adding he doesn’t have to pick and choose what to spend in the final weeks
“I can increase TV, radio, mail, digital, field all at the same time,” he said.
Nickolas later apologized for having to cut the interview short. He had to drive McGrath to record a new radio ad.