Mitch McConnell opponent Amy McGrath breaks Senate fundraising records on first day of campaign

Female fighter pilot raises record donations in her long shot campaign against the Senate majority leader

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 10 July 2019 17:36 BST
Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath has shattered fundraising records on the first day of her senatorial campaign against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath has shattered fundraising records on the first day of her senatorial campaign against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. (Getty Images)

Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot and the first female captain to fly the F/A-18 on a combat mission, earned herself another accolade on Tuesday when it was announced she broke fundraising records during the first day of her senate campaign race against Mitch McConnell.

Mark Nickolas, campaign manager to Ms McGrath, said the 24-hour fundraising haul amounted to $2.5m (£2m) — the most ever raised on the first day of a senatorial campaign.

The average donation was $36.15 (£28.89) and more than $1m (£799,090) of those funds were contributed within five hours of the campaign launch, NBC News reported.

The record-breaking figures arrived after Ms McGrath’s senate bid drew national headlines throughout the week and even caught the attention of Donald Trump. The president sent a pair of tweets defending Mr McConnell — an ally of the president in the US Senate — and calling out the Democratic candidate for comments she made in a past interview about his 2016 election victory, in which Ms McGrath said she “took stock” of the state of the country as she had done after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“Democrats are coming after our great Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell, with someone who compared my election to September 11th,” he wrote.

“Why would Kentucky ever think of giving up the most powerful position in Congress, the Senate Majority Leader, for a freshman Senator with little power in what will hopefully be the minority party,” Mr Trump continued. “We need Mitch in the Senate to Keep America Great!!”

The record-breaking numbers, presidential tweets and deep-rooted unpopularity across Kentucky of Mr McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, has already established Ms McGrath’s campaign as one of the most high-profile senate bids in the 2020 election season.

Ms McGrath’s numbers bested that of Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut running for Senate in Arizona, who previously held the record after raising $1m (£799,090) in the first 24-hours of his 2020 bid.

However, fundraising numbers don’t always equate to a senatorial victory. Ms McGrath’s 2018 run against Republican incumbent Andy Barr for Kentucky’s sixth district ultimately proved unsuccessful, despite her ability to raise a staggering $8.5m (£6.8m).

Other unsuccessful Democratic candidates have proven to be fundraising juggernauts in deeply red states over recent years, including Beto O’Rourke, who broke senatorial campaign fundraising records in his long shot bid against Republican Ted Cruz in Texas during the midterms.

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Mr McConnell — who currently is the least popular senator in the country, with just 36 per cent of support in Kentucky, according to a Morning Consult poll — has also raised and spent millions in senate campaigns over the years.

The Republican leader beat out Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in 2014, NBC News reported, in part by spending over $30m (£24m).

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