Matt Jones, the founder of Kentucky Sports Radio in Lexington, Ky., and a potential candidate for Senate, says Amy McGrath, a top Democratic recruit, has no chance of beating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) met with McGrath, a former Marine veteran and fighter pilot, last month to encourage her to run against McConnell.
McGrath narrowly lost to Rep. Andy Barr (R) in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District by 3 points in the 2018 midterm elections after making the unorthodox decision not to run attack ads against her opponent.
Jones, who is rumored to be thinking about a run against McConnell himself, panned McGrath’s chances during an episode of his show, “Hey Kentucky,” which runs weeknights on NBC’s Lexington affiliate, WLEX.
“She’s got a great résumé, she’s also a really good person. I just don’t know if she can win,” Jones said Tuesday.
“She can’t beat McConnell, so why would you want to recruit her to run?” he added. “She would be a great public servant, I just don’t know if she can beat McConnell in Kentucky, which is probably what the goal is.”
When asked for a response, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee national press secretary David Bergstein took a shot at McConnell’s electability.
“Mitch McConnell is behind every toxic policy in Washington — from gutting protections for pre-existing conditions to slashing Medicare and Social Security — and is more vulnerable now than ever before,” he said.
A Morning Consult survey of senators’ approval ratings conducted from October through December showed McConnell with a 47 percent disapproval rating and a 38 percent approval rating in his home state.
Al Cross, a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky and a longtime commentator on Kentucky politics, said Jones isn’t an impartial observer.
“Matt Jones is self-interested. He would like to run himself. His opinion may be perfectly valid, but you have to consider the self-interest that may be involved there,” he said.
Cross, however, said there are serious doubts about McGrath’s ability to beat McConnell and predicted she would have to jettison her policy against running attack ads to emerge as a real threat to win the Senate seat.
“You’d have to give her a chance, but there’s a lot of doubt about her ability to get beyond the Democratic base,” he said.
“The Democratic base is shrinking because it’s dying off. It’s the old Roosevelt-Truman-Barkley cohort of which you have fewer of each election,” referring to former Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Alben Barkley, Truman’s vice president and a longtime senator from Kentucky.
“If she runs against McConnell, she would have to take a different tack. She couldn’t say, ‘I’m not going to engage in attack ads,’” he said.
McConnell will be helped in his reelection by his close allegiance to President Trump, who remains highly popular in Kentucky.