McGrath seeks U.S. House seat
Amy McGrath, 42, a recently retired U.S. Marine Corps pilot who lives with her husband and their three young children in Georgetown, visited The Sun on Monday. She hopes to win next May's Democratic primary for Kentucky's 6th District Congressional seat. This interview follows a lengthy article in last week's issue about a visit to Versailles by the man she hopes to replace, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington). Here are the questions we asked her, followed by, as length allows, her answers. Why are you running? "Because I think we need better leaders, and I am somebody who has served my country for 24 years (the first four at the U.S. Naval Academy) and I want to continue that service. I'm tired of politics as usual, and after the 2016 elections, I felt like somebody had sucker-punched me - I mean, I just felt that bad for our country. ... Not only the results of the election, the whole process, the fake news, everything. ..." You've said health care is a right. How does that translate into policy? "... I believe health care is a right. If you do not have your health, you do not have anything. And we are the greatest nation in the world. We should be able to guarantee for our citizens, at a minimum level, quality health care. ..." How do we get there? "... I believe that health care is not a normal business. I don't think health insurance is a normal business, and I think we can't look at it that way. ... If we were going to start over, 20 years ago, and restart our health care system from scratch, I think single-payer is the way to go. But we don't live in that world, okay? ... I believe we can work with this system, but we have to fix things like the Affordable Care Act - make it better. Right now, it's got a lot of holes. ... We have to fix it in a bipartisan way, the same way we fix things like Medicare, over time, Social Security, over time. We tweak it, we don't just scrap it and say there's problems. ... Now, if, over time, we can't fix it, (if) the dysfunction is so bad, I think we need to move in the direction of a potentially single-payer system. ... I am a product of government medicine, socialized medicine, whatever you want to call it - the military. It's awesome. ..." How can a Democrat take a seat in a district Trump scored 58 percent in, U.S. Rep. Barr won by 22 points, in a state Trump won by 32 points? People say Democrats don't have a chance, outside Louisville. "I disagree with that, simply because I don't think the vote for Trump was a vote for the Republicans. I just think a vote for Trump was a vote for Trump, and it was a vote for change, and it was an anti-establishment vote. First of all, it showed that there was a disconnect between the rural and urban areas, and we had one candidate that spoke to the rural areas and another candidate that didn't. But we also saw that people are just tired of politics as usual. They're tired of standard politicians. ... Andy Barr won by a large percentage ... (and) the candidates he ran against were great people, but maybe potentially underfunded, and I think that people are just, around here and from where I'm from (Northern Kentucky), most Kentuckians, they care more about the person, and the candidate, and less so much about the party. ..." Do you plan to link Barr to Trump? "I think I'm going to be honest with people. I mean, he's voted with Trump and been with Trump, like 97 or 98 percent of the time. I think a lot of Trump's decisions, and agenda so far, have been very disappointing. And so, yeah, when the time is necessary to link him, I think I've got to be honest with people. I mean, I'm not a fan of many of Trump's policies. I really don't think he's headed in the right direction, and that's because much of his policy is trying to push through the Republican agenda, which I don't agree with either. ..." Many Americans believe the vast majority of elected officials at the national level care more about getting elected and reelected than doing "what is right," which may involve taking a brave stand that they'll have to explain to voters later. Do you agree - and if so, how will you be different? "I do agree with that. I just believe that I'm going into this with the attitude that I'm going to be a public servant, but I also want to be a leader. And so, I don't want to be and I don't believe I'm going to be, because of my background as a Marine, wishy-washy when it comes to standing on my own principles. So for example, I believe what (Lexington) Mayor Jim Gray has started to work on with the (Confederate) monuments is the right thing to do. ... As a leader, you have to stand, sometimes against the grain, when you believe that it's the right thing to do. ... I'm for term limits, (though) I think it needs to be nationwide. You cannot term limit yourself, because ... the people would lose out, because in Congress, power is based on how long you've been there. ..." Many folks also believe that the vast majority of elected officials make decisions on how to vote based almost solely on propaganda from their own party. Do you agree with that, and if so, how will you be different? "I do agree with that statement. I don't like it, and here's one of the reasons we need to vote more veterans in. We have the lowest percentage of veterans in our Congress and places like Congress in history. ... I feel very confident I could work across the aisle with somebody like (Congresswoman) Martha McSally, who is an A-10 pilot, Republican, from Arizona. We see things the same way, we have the same sort of background, having gone in as fighter attack pilots ... and so, if she came to me and said, 'Here is a bill, and here's why I'm supporting it.' You bet I would listen. ..." We are a badly divided country. What would you do to lower the volume? "One, I think we need to speak out on things like the recent attack in Charlottesville. All leaders in all parties need to strongly condemn that and call it what it is, which I think is a disappointing thing, from my perspective, that the president didn't really do that. (Mondayafternoon, after two days of criticism from members of both parties, President Trump did make a statement in which he specifically criticized white racist groups.) ... Number two, we need to take a step back, and when folks from the other side propose interesting and decent bills or ideas, we need to listen and we need to praise them. ..."