FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Democratic congressional candidate in deep-red Kentucky will introduce herself to voters this week against a big blue backdrop: A $50,000 ad during the first half of the University of Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament game.
Amy McGrath is set to air the ad Thursday in Kentucky’s crowded campaign for the 6th Congressional District, a race Democrats believe they can win given the anticipated backlash against Republican President Donald Trump. The district, currently held by Republican Andy Barr, has flipped between the two major political parties five times since 1979. It would be the first TV ad of the race.
McGrath has raised more than $1 million for her first-time campaign. She’ll be using some of that money Thursday night, when most of this basketball-crazed state will be tuned in to watch their beloved Wildcats play Davidson in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The 60-second ad highlights McGrath’s journey to becoming the first female Marine to fly an F/A-18 in combat. It is a shorter version of the two-minute announcement video McGrath released last summer.
The ad comes just days after Democrat Conor Lamb, also a Marine, came to the brink of winning a special election in Republican-heavy district in Pennsylvania. Lamb was leading Republican Rick Saccone by less than 700 votes in a race that was still too close to call. But McGrath said the race shows “Americans want a new generation of leaders who put country over party, even in places where Democrats haven’t done as well in years past.”
While McGrath hopes to defeat Barr, she’ll have to first get through a crowded Democratic primary that includes Jim Gray. He’s the two-term mayor of Lexington, the congressional district’s largest city, and is coming off a statewide campaign for the U.S. Senate. While Gray lost to Sen. Rand Paul in 2016, he got more votes in the 6th district than Paul did, leading some to consider him the favorite for the Democratic nomination.
Other Democratic candidates include state Sen. Reggie Thomas along with Theodore David Green, Daniel Kemph and Geoff Young. Republican Chuck Eddy is challenging Barr in the Republican primary.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Conor Lamb’s name. It its Conor, not Connor.