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By Dave Taylor
Democrat Senate candidate Amy McGrath held a campaign stop at the Hancock County Airport Tuesday afternoon and railed against her opponent, Republican Mitch McConnell, whom she said has been in office too long and who has lost touch with Kentuckians.
After landing at the airport greeted by a chant of “Amy!” by her local supporters, McGrath headed to an open airplane hangar and took the mic to deliver her prepared message of the importance of voting out McConnell.
“This is such an incredible welcome here in Hancock County. It’s awesome to be here,” she told the crowd after being introduced by Hancock County circuit court clerk Mike Boling.
She began by explaining that she hadn’t grown up wanting to run for office, but had instead wanted to become a fighter pilot, but that at age 12 she was told there was a law against women holding that position, and so she began to learn about politics and how to change the laws of the country.
Now a retired combat pilot, she’s taking on the six-term incumbent and Senate majority leader McConnell with attacks on his reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and what she says is a lack of caring for his state’s citizens.
“We have terrible leaders in this country right now. The worst,” she said. “Senator Mitch McConnell is at the top of that list.” She criticized McConnell’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people nationwide, and what she said is his lack of a plan as the Senate leader.
“That just goes to show you that we have elected people like Mitch McConnell who have been there too long and he is so much a part of the problem that he can’t even see what the problem is any more,” she said.
“It’s all a political game, and it’s the problem when people are there that long, they look at everything, even a national crisis, as some kind of political game.” “And enough is enough,” she said. “I’m tired of it. That’s why I’m running. Kentucky can do better. Our country can do better.”
McGrath pointed to McConnell’s access to intel briefings as the Senate majority leader, saying that although he was given information about the virus he didn’t use it to protect Kentuckians.
“He knew about this back in January, knew about the dangers. He protected himself,” she said. “When did he even say a word to us? He didn’t even say the word coronavirus until the stock market crashed.”
And then, she said, he helped corporations instead of workers and state and local governments.
“He basically said you know, state and local governments ought to go bankrupt,” she said. “It’s unacceptable, but it’s because he’s been there too long.
“The man has no principles, he stands for nothing except for his own power, and it’s crushing our democracy,” she said. Instead, she implored the audience, they should vote for her, and she laid out her plans if elected.
“You’re going to get somebody who is going to listen to you and is going to have a plan to push us forward, and to do the things that we need to do to help people,” she said.
That would start by immediately getting aid for the state and the nation to get through the coronavirus, including providing aid to workers, schools, and to local governments.
Next would be healthcare, a topic that is currently in the news that could be heading to the Supreme Court in a battle over the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment that supporters saw as providing healthcare and opponents saw as a legal overreach for requiring citizens to buy insurance or face fines.
“Anybody that thinks that our current healthcare system has done us a lot of really good stuff in the middle of this coronavirus, I don’t know, you’ve got to have your head examined,” she said. “We’ve got to shore up the Affordable Care Act, not throw it away. Take the things we like about it and keep them and change the things that we don’t like about it.”
McGrath also promised to rebuild Kentucky, which she said meant investing in infrastructure like education and healthcare. “That can be done and should be done on a federal level,” she said. “That may be the biggest difference between myself and Mitch McConnell.
“There’s a lot of differences right? There’s age, there’s gender, there’s political party, but the biggest is I believe in the power of the federal government to be able to provide and help with infrastructure,” she said. “The federal government is just us coming together and saying we’re going to do it for each other, we’re going to do it for our country.”
Not all of her plans are infrastructure in the traditional sense, she said, but it would include high-speed internet, which affects places like Hancock County. “To build the jobs of the future, to build our economy, we have to have 21st century infrastructure. That’s broadband, that’s cell phone coverage,” she said. “In Hancock County, I was doing some research before coming here, 75 percent of folks here in Hancock County do not have high speed internet.”
“No business is going to come to a county in Kentucky that cannot talk to the modern world, period,” she said.
KentuckyWired, the ongoing state project to run a fiber backbone to all 120 counties, could fit into her plan. “I look at this as a federal venture, that we bring universal broadband to Kentucky, because that is the future,” she said. “So where does that fit in with KentuckyWired? … I’m going to make sure that we’re working with KentuckyWired and making sure that we’re integrated at the same time.”
McGrath said she was unfamiliar with Kenergy’s current request of the PSC to allow a waiver for the co-op’s subsidiary Kenect to provide internet, but that it follows along with what she sees as a way to spread broadband.
“If a company wants to bring it in there and they want to make a profit on it that’s one thing and we can certainly look at that,” she said, “but the goal is that it is looked at as a utility, the same way we looked at electricity 100 years ago, the same way we looked at the interstate highway system 80 years ago, and we should do this for our country.”