• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Chandler calls McGrath ‘tremendously determined’


Former U. S. Congressman Ben Chandler, a Versailles Democrat, describes Amy McGrath as an unusual candidate, the likes of which Kentucky has not seen in “a long time.”

Her background and experiences as a U.S. Marine fighter pilot who flew 89 combat missions and a mother of three make this 42-year-old democratic candidate for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district “singular and unique,” Chandler said.

“She’s courageous. She’s tough. And obviously anybody who’s accomplished that in her life,” said Chandler, “is tremendously determined.”

With her track record of overcoming obstacles to become the first women to fly in an F-18 on a combat mission, Chandler said McGrath was able to defeat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray – “a very smart, tough and accomplished politician” – in last week’s primary election. It’s also why Chandler views McGrath as having a tremendous chance to defeat two-term U.S. Congressman Andy Barr in November.

Chandler, who faced Barr on two occasions as the incumbent in the 6th Congressional seat, said general elections generally hinge on the political climate. “It’s all about timing,” he said.

Unlike his 2012 race against Barr, Chandler said McGrath will not have to defend President Barack Obama or his policies. The issues in November’s race will likely center on whether or not Republican tax cuts are good for working families as well as “in some respects a referendum” on President Trump, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Barr.

“When I was running, it was a referendum on me and my relationship with President Obama. So it’s a completely different set of circumstances,” said Chandler, who also pointed out that the party in power always has difficulty in the mid-term elections. He said Barr must also face McGrath as the incumbent – not the outsider.

“He’s the establishment and that changes things dramatically,” said Chandler. Yet, he also acknowledged that the 6th Congressional District has skewed Republican for the last several years. “So it’s never easy for a Democrat to win,” he said.

Because many in Kentucky identify themselves as being conservative, Chandler said any Democrat who wants to win this district’s congressional seat must be more conservative than national Democrats.

He said McGrath’s military record – dropping bombs on foreign terrorists to protect Americans – sets her apart from other Democrats.

“That’s patriotism … That’s courage … That’s the sort of thing that conservatives, moderates and liberals can be proud of, but I think conservatives particularly like that,” Chandler said. The Versailles Democrat said he encouraged McGrath to get into the 6th Congressional District race after first meeting her while she was a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. She had shown an interest in getting into politics after she retired from the military and came home to Kentucky, he said.

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