Straight-Talkin', Fully Informed Amy McGrath Wins Upset In Kentucky 6th District Democrat Primary

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AOC has been all-in with Kentucky District 6 House candidate Amy McGrath, jumping for joy over her stunning Tuesday night victory over Jim Gray, Lexington's well-liked and Democratic-party backed former mayor. 

The New York Times writes that Republicans immediately tried to paint the Marine fighter pilot and mother of three as a far left candidate, while the very national Dems who backed her opponent Gray rallied quickly around her. AOC has no such torn allegiances, as we have been for McGrath all the way. 

"I have never heard someone so persistent," her campaign's highly-credentialed ad maker Mark Putnam told the Times. 

Amy McGrath has a story about refusing to accept the word "no": No, you cannot compete against the boys in sports. No, you cannot serve in combat or fly fighter jets. And no, you certainly cannot defeat the popular mayor of the largest city in your congressional district as a first-time candidate.

What I personally love deeply about Amy is not only her feminism, but her willingness to stand up to Trump. Of all the candidates running for office -- female or male -- McGrath won my heart with her second campaign video by Putnam. 

When her first $33,000 video 'Told Me' was produced, McGrath was $7,000 in the hole. Her team, including Putnam and campaign manager Mark Nickolas -- now a filmmaker in New York -- put her in her bomber jacket in 94-degree heat -- and told her to do her pitch over and over again. 

The first video was posted on Aug. 1, 2017, with a national response that raised $300,000 in 72 hours. The PAC affiliated with Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New Yor, sent a $5,000 check. The campaign ultimately brought in more than $1 million and despite many challenges, the campaign was able to keep Amy McGrath looking like a local candidate.

In early December 2017,  Mr. Gray announced his candidacy, backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Mr. Nickolas, who had never worked in a campaign in the digital era, saw the Washington rebuke as an opportunity to run the campaign his way, without having to hew to the DCCC playbook. That meant buying ad space in small town newspapers for opinion pieces by Ms. McGrath, buying billboard space, and building a field operation in rural areas where few Democrats have dared to even campaign in recent years.

Mr. Nickolas wanted voters to see Ms. McGrath as he saw her, “the combination of normal, even awkward, with powerful, that makes her authentic and accessible and blends the young mother with three kids and the Marine lieutenant colonel.”

Being told that she needed to raise $2.2 million, Amy delivered. With Gray in the race, McGrath was down 25 points in March, according to his public survey. 

Who says that voters don't read in the digital age! The caqmpaign wrote a 32-page economic plan printed on expensive paper with glossy photos and mailed to 47,000 Democratic households. No one could mistake this offering for junk mail, the campaign calculated. 

The campaign made another major gamble, a $50,000, 60-second version of her viral video, which ran during the first half of the University of Kentucky’s game in the NCAA basketball tournament in March. “That sounds badass,” Ms. McGrath told Mr. Nickolas.

On April 9, Amy's father Donald McGrath -- her "biggest fan" -- died unexectedly, leaving Amy despondent and worse. In her deep sorrow, good news emerged. The polls were turning, and not because voters found Gray unfavorable. In truth, they were very drawn to Amy McGrath, her values and her vision. 

Even yesterday, Amy McGrath and her husband Erik Henderson, a Republican, broke the mold, with Henderson voting for Republicans and not his wife. There were no hard feelings between the couple who figured that Henderson staying true to his political values might hold major water with Republican voters. 

 Ms. McGrath celebrated at her election night party on Tuesday.CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Ms. McGrath celebrated at her election night party on Tuesday.CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

By night, McGrath was celebrating at her victory party, and two top Democrats in the House, Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California and Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and a staff member of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were on the phone Wednesday morning. 

Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the DCCC, invited her to join Red to Blue, the campaign committee’s list of the most targeted races to reclaim the House -- and Amy McGrath was all in. We will all go to the wall for this down-to-earth, determined, and fierce woman. I reject the word 'authenticity' because it is so overused. But this woman Amy McGrath is the real deal. And she's gonna take out Republican Andy Barr in November. Mark my words. ~ Anne

Because I was in New York on September 11, watching the towers fall before my eyes, I feel a spiritual connection to Amy McGrath, one revealed in her second campaign video. I've watched it a hundred times. If anyone will stand for Kentucky and against abuse of power, it's Amy McGrath.