U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, is running as a Democrat in the 2020 race against Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. But, McGrath said, before becoming a Democrat, she was registered for years as an independent.
McGrath is running as a Washington outsider in an effort to unseat McConnell, who has held one of the state's two Senate seats since 1984 and is the Senate's majority leader.
"A lot of people know Mitch McConnell has been around for a long time, and they are tired of the dysfunction and him not being able to do much for Kentucky," McGrath said Monday during an interview at the Messenger-Inquirer. "They're fed up. They're excited someone is taking him on."
McGrath, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 against incumbent U.S. 6th District Rep. Andy Barr, said she is currently out meeting people and listening to their concerns, and her campaign will increase activity after the governor's race is over.
"I came back (to Kentucky) after 24 years of service, and I want to serve again," McGrath said. As a Marine pilot, McGrath flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She criticized McConnell on a number of issues, including health care coverage, prescription drug prices and the state's opioid crisis.
"And all this time, we have a senator that claims to have so much power, but hasn't used that power to tackle the opioid crisis," McGrath said. "We have a senator that has tried to throw people off health care four different times."
McConnell "controls the Senate," McGrath said. "All of the things we want done, if he wanted them to happen, they would happen."
McGrath said the tax bill passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate before Democrats took the House in 2018 was a "massive tax windfall for (McConnell's) big donors" that added $2 trillion to the national debt.
McGrath said, if elected, she would focus on issues such as "building a Kentucky that has 21st century jobs" and health care, such as improving the Affordable Care Act.
"I know what every day life is like," McGrath said. "... I think we need more people in office who haven't been in office for 34 years."
President Donald Trump is popular in Kentucky. McGrath said some of Trump's ideas on lowering prescription drug prices and infrastructure are reasonable, and said, "guess who is stopping that? Mitch McConnell."
"I believe I can reach people" who support Trump, McGrath said. McConnell "built this dysfunctional system we have."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse