Sunday, July 07, 2019

Democratic Losers in 2018 May Be Reborn as 2020 Winners

Could losing a high-profile Congressional race in 2018 actually fuel a Democratic candidate into winning a 2020 Senate race?

That's the question facing two women who were favorites of ours last year: Amy McGrath in Kentucky and M.J. Hegar in Texas. Both veterans of the military -- McGrath an ex-fighter pilot and Hegar an ex-helicopter pilot -- they were also both remarkably good at making an impression and raising money.

McGrath lost her race to incumbent Republican Congressman Andy Barr in the Kentucky 6th by 9,700 votes out of almost 303,000 total votes cast. M.J. Hegar lost to incumbent Republican Congressman John R. Carter in the Texas 31st by 8,300 votes out of 286,000. Both significantly closer than should have been expected, because the Kentucky 6th was rated R+10 and the Texas 31st, a whopping R+21. Pretty good damn showing for first-time novice candidates.

Politico reported back in February -- but I just found it today -- that Sen. Chuck Schumer was trying to recruit McGrath to go after Mitch McConnell's Senate seat. That would excite a lot of people, but McGrath underperformed in the rural precincts of the 6th District and would need a new plan for running statewide, which is majorly rural. The urban-rural divide is the battle line right now, and the McGrath campaign would have to grapple with why there's resistance to her among rural people -- despite her being an accomplished warrior for America, a Marine, one of the first female fighter pilots in U.S. history, a wife, and a mother.

Here's the best part for Amy McGrath, if she decides to run again: Mitch McConnell is underwater in his own state, and has been for some time. His approval rating in Kentucky was 33% this past February, with a 56% disapproval. In 2017, he had an 18% approval rating.

M.J. (Mary Jennings) Hegar describes herself as "an ass-kicking, motorcycle-riding Texas Democrat." She's an actual war hero. She has a Purple Heart (as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor) for combat in Afghanistan, where she piloted rescue helicopters. She's married now with two young children and lives in Round Rock. And she's got an Expert Marksman rating with both handgun and rifle.

The "ass-kicking" part came across loud and clear in her introductory video:

Hegar is already in as a candidate. She announced in April. She'll have to get past Joaquin Castro in a primary (along with a host of lesser-known Democrats). Joaquin is twin brother to Julian of presidential debate fame and the mayor of San Antonio. He's probably better known than Hegar statewide, so that primary will be no picnic. I don't think that will deter M.J. Hegar in the least.

Amy McGrath announced she was running against McConnell on July 9.

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