State Sen. Reggie Thomas took the first swing Monday in the fight for the 2018 Democratic nomination in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
In an online video released Monday evening, Thomas stressed his Lexington roots while subtly calling out his opponent Amy McGrath for recently moving to the congressional district.
“There’s a lot here you can’t see from an airplane,” Thomas, a state senator, says after a plane flies across the screen.
McGrath was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps and moved back to Kentucky this year after serving in the military for 20 years.
The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington.
In a news release with the video, Leo Haggerty, Thomas’ campaign manager, stressed that the video was shot in Kentucky “with a Kentucky-based film crew.”
“We feel strongly that to beat Andy Barr we have to make this a Kentucky-focused campaign,” Haggerty said. “We have had candidates try to run national races here, and it never ends well. One of our opponents has a neat video, but I’m not even sure where it was filmed. It doesn’t look like Kentucky.”
McGrath’s campaign ads, which were featured in national media, were filmed in the Kentucky Aviation Museum and at the Georgetown Airport. They were made by Mark Putnam, the media consultant behind the (politically) famous U.S. Senate campaign ads of Jason Kander, a Democrat from Missouri.
“Senator Thomas should run the campaign he thinks is best for him,” said Mark Nickolas, the campaign manager for McGrath. “We’ll do the same.”
Thomas used the video to express his support for a single-payer health care system, also known as Medicare for all, creating the first separation between the two candidates on an issue.
“I want to tell you what I’m for and what I’m against,” Thomas said. “I am for Medicare for all, a single-payer health care system for everyone that will save money and save lives.”
McGrath has said she would support a single-payer system if Congress were making a health care plan from scratch, but that she doesn’t think it is politically feasible and would rather make changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Both Thomas and McGrath oppose Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Thomas added that he opposes the pension reform efforts in Frankfort, though the federal office he is seeking has no control over Kentucky’s pension system.
“I am against President Trump, Andy Barr, Mitch McConnell and their attempts to take health insurance away from 500,000 Kentuckians,” Thomas said. “I am against Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to reduce pensions that were promised to Kentucky teachers, police, firefighters and other state workers.”
Thomas and McGrath are joined by perennial candidate Geoff Young in the Democratic primary. There has been speculation over whether Lexington Mayor Jim Gray will join the race, but he has remained silent on his intentions.
The filing deadline for the race is Jan. 30, 2018.