Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath (Ret.), a former Marine combat pilot, has become the first person to officially declare a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

Amy McGrath launched her campaign with a three-minute video entitled “The Letter.” It begins with McGrath telling a story of sitting at her dining room table at the age of 13, and writing a letter to Sen. McConnell. She told him her dream was to become a combat pilot, and that women should be able to do that in America. McConnell never wrote back.

McGrath then told the stories of other Kentuckians whose letters to McConnell went unanswered, including that of a steel mill worker who lose his job following a plant closure, a diabetic woman afraid of losing her health insurance coverage due to her pre-existing condition, a coal miner who had to retire early due to contracting black lung disease, and a college student drowning in debt.

“Everything that’s wrong in Washington had to start someplace… Well, it started with this man, who was elected a lifetime ago, and who has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise,” McGrath said, as images of Mitch McConnell appeared. “Where dysfunction and chaos are political weapons. Where budgets, healthcare, and the Supreme Court are all held hostage. A place where ideals go to die.”

“I learned as a daughter, a mom, a marine, and a fighter pilot, that the mission can never be forgotten,” McGrath continued. “The challenge of today is inside each of us. How do we reconcile our belief in basic human decency? With our anger at those who block progress at all costs?”

“We have to win this,” she said.

Senator McConnell has been majority leader since 2015, and the Republican leader in the Senate since 2007. He called his refusal to allow a confirmation hearing for Obama Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland — which resulted in a year-long vacancy on the court until President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 — the “most consequential thing” he’s ever done in his career. He’s helped Trump reshape the federal judiciary by ramming through his judicial nominees to the point where more than one in six federal judges today are Trump appointees.

During President Barack Obama’s tenure, McConnell engaged in unprecedented obstruction of his legislative agenda. In Senate parlance, a cloture motion is filed in order to force a 60-vote threshold for legislation to even be allowed a vote. After Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Republicans under McConnell’s leadership filed 137 cloture motions — more than twice the number of motions compared to the 2005-2006 session prior to McConnell becoming the top Republican in the Senate. And in the session that gaveled in after Obama was re-elected, there were 252 cloture motions filed.

As Grit Post reported last month, McConnell is currently preventing votes on bills that would strengthen America’s electoral systems — including bills passed through Republican-controlled committees — despite confirmation that Russian-affiliated hackers infiltrated election systems in all 50 states in 2016.


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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