Politics

Amy McGrath’s Millions Weren’t Enough to Unseat Andy Barr

Democrat raised millions of dollars and national attention

Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr won re-election Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kentucky Republican Andy Barr has survived a competitive challenge from Marine veteran Amy McGrath, who raised record sums of money as a House candidate and whose viral videos captured national attention. 

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Barr led McGrath 51 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the 6th District race. 

McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot made a splash last year with an introductory video about the letters she wrote to members of Congress asking them to change the law so that women could fly in combat.

Despite not being the favorite of national Democrats, she won the May Democratic primary, defeating Jim Gray, the Lexington mayor and the 2016 Senate nominee. She went on to raise nearly $8 million by the end of the pre-general reporting period on Oct. 17. 

But that wasn’t enough to hold off Barr, a three-term incumbent running in a district that President Donald Trump won by 15 points in 2016. Barr used all the money McGrath raised to argue that she was a liberal outsider who only recently moved into the Lexington-based district. McGrath responded to those attacks by playing up her military service. 

Republicans also seized on audio leaked from a Massachusetts fundraiser, in which McGrath bragged about being progressive.

“I am further left, I am more progressive, than anyone in the state of Kentucky,” she was heard saying in the audio.  

Barr’s ads repeatedly played up his ties to the district. One of his final spots alluded to the migrant caravan traveling through Central America — a favorite recent topic for Trump —  to attack McGrath on immigration, accusing her of supporting “open borders.”

Watch: Toss-Up Kentucky 6th Debate in 4 Minutes

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