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Democratic Senate Hopeful McGrath Reverses Stance On Kavanaugh Confirmation

Amy McGrath

Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath had had a tough rollout of her U.S. Senate campaign this week, showing some of the difficulties of running a statewide campaign as a Democrat in increasingly Republican Kentucky.

In interviews with the Courier Journal and Insider Louisville on Wednesday, McGrath said she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, quickly drawing ire from some of her more liberal supporters.

“You know, I think that with Judge Kavanaugh, yeah, I probably would have voted for him,” McGrath told the Courier Journal.


Hours later, McGrath retracted her comments in a pair of Twitter messages, saying that “upon further reflection and further understanding of his record,” she would have voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“I know I disappointed many today with my initial answer on how I would have voted on Brett Kavanaugh. I will make mistakes and always own up to them. The priority is defeating Mitch McConnell,” McGrath wrote.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court last year amid accusations that he had sexually assaulted a woman named Christine Blasey Ford at a party in the 1980s.

After a series of contentious hearings, Kavanaugh was confirmed with a vote of 50-48 in the U.S. Senate. Only one Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin voted in favor.

McGrath is trying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellin the 2020 election. Last year she lost a hotly contested election for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district to incumbent Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington.

McGrath’s initial comments in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation contradict several statements she made during her campaign last year.

In a Facebook post following Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing last September, McGrath said that Senate Republicans were rushing the confirmation process and that “no one is owed a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

In a Twitter post last July following Kavanaugh’s nomination, McGrath said that Kavanaugh has been “against women’s reproductive rights, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and is a hardcore partisan.”

McGrath announced her candidacy on Tuesday, describing herself as a “moderate” who tries to avoid partisan labels.

In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, McGrath took an unusual stance for Democrats— accusing McConnell of helping block Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Kentucky has consistently voted in favor of Republicans in U.S. Senate elections since 1992 — when Democratic Sen. Wendell Ford was elected for his final term in office.

Following McGrath’s recent comments about Kavanaugh, the Republican National Committee spokesman Kevin Knoth issued a statement, describing her reversal as a “self-own.”

“Exactly one year ago, ‘most-progressive in Kentucky’ Amy McGrath cited great concerns about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination only to now flip, and then flip back, her position in less than a day. McGrath’s self-own is just the latest example of the embarrassment that awaits if the Democrat were to ever represent Kentucky in the Senate,” Knoth said.

A spokesperson for McGrath’s campaign didn’t return a request Thursday for comment.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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