Democrat Amy McGrath is proving to be a formidable opponent for Republican incumbent Andy Barr in the race for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. The district includes Lexington, Kentucky's second most populous city and its surrounding counties. It has strongly favored Republican candidates in recent elections, making McGrath's success surprising and potentially consequential for the Democratic Party on a national level. Kentucky.com noted that the race has been characterized as a toss-up by many political analysts.

More about the candidates

Retired Marine Corps pilot Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath announced her candidacy in August of 2017 and won the Democratic Primary in May 2018. Her campaign has emphasized her extensive military service as well as her role as a mother. She has also declared her willingness to work across party lines, highlighting her past as a registered independent and the fact that she married a Republican.

She has yet to run a negative ad against her opponent.

McGrath is open about her criticism of some of President Trump's policies, such as the Mexico border wall and steel and aluminum tariffs. She has stated she is in favor of reforming the Affordable Care Act instead of repealing it. According to her campaign website, her economic plan focuses on combining agriculture, manufacturing, and technology to build Kentucky's economy.

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Democratic Party

McGrath has managed to raise around $7 million, more than any other congressional candidate in Kentucky.

Rep. Andy Barr is a third-term incumbent. He defeated his last Democratic opponent by a large margin in the 2016 election. His campaign embraces traditional conservative values such as limited government with fewer regulations. His campaign website also stresses his connection to the coal industry, a key component of Kentucky's economy.

Barr was quick to run attack ads on McGrath, characterizing her as being too liberal for Kentucky. These ads point out McGrath's more liberal stances on issues such as abortion, health care, and climate change. Barr usually votes with his party and has been slow to criticize President Trump's policies, even those which had the potential to harm Kentucky's bourbon industry.

Why this race matters

This race is gaining national attention. Both candidates recently received endorsements from high-profile politicians.

On October 13, President Trump held a rally at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, where he promoted Barr's candidacy. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for McGrath at a rally she hosted in Bath County, Kentucky, the day before Trump's rally.

Kentucky is a thoroughly Republican state, and this district favored Trump in the 2016 election by a comfortable 15 points. This is what makes McGrath's popularity so unexpected and it's what's made this midterm election a spectacle.

A win for McGrath could be good news for the Democratic Party because it would mean gaining one of the 23 Republican-held seats Democrats need to win to control the House of Representatives. McGrath's victory would also prove that a well-liked Democrat can win a traditionally red region.

McGrath and Barr are entering the final weeks of their campaigns. Midterm elections will take place November 6.

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