Politics & Government

As McGrath reloads after an expensive primary, Barr holds big financial advantage

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, and Amy McGrath, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, and Amy McGrath, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.

Democratic candidate Amy McGrath said she took four weeks after the May 15th primary to recharge her batteries. She also used it to replenish her campaign funds.

The former fighter pilot’s haul between May 3rd and June 30th is large. In that time she brought in $989,389 -- the most she has raised in a reporting period since she announced her campaign.

Throughout her campaign, McGrath has benefited from her national profile as she attempts to unseat Rep. Andy Barr, of Lexington. Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District has been widely perceived as a potential pick-up for national Democrats looking to flip the House of Representatives in November, and McGrath, the marine corps veteran married to a Republican in the closest thing Kentucky has to a swing district, has caught the attention of talk shows and political analysts.

After McGrath secured an 8 point victory over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, the Cook Political Report called the race a toss-up despite the fact that President Donald Trump carried the Republican-leaning district by more than 15 points.

But the primary was expensive. McGrath spent at least $1.7 million to defeat Gray, leaving her with $733,771 on hand.

That pales in comparison to the $2,767,590 Barr has quietly built as the Democrats fought for the chance to challenge him. This reporting period he raised less than McGrath -- $710,560 -- but enough to maintain almost a $2 million cash advantage over his challenger.

“Kentuckians recognize that and have continued to support me based on the results we have delivered to the people of the Sixth District,” Barr said in a statement. “I’m thankful for this strong support from my Kentucky home.”

Both Barr and McGrath have raised more than $3 million this election cycle. But while McGrath had to compete with two strong Democrats in her primary, Barr was able to coast to victory in his.

Barr’s campaign said 90 percent of his individual contributions between April and June came from Kentuckians, a shot at the fact that McGrath has raised a majority of her money from out of state.

But McGrath has consistently emphasized her contributions from individual donors. In this election cycle, Barr has raised more than $1.3 million from PACs, which makes up 43 percent of the money he has raised so far. McGrath, on the other hand, has only raised $117,952 from PACs, which makes up only 3.8 percent of the money she has raised.

Both campaigns are expected to be supported by outside groups as well. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican group dedicated to keeping control of the House of Representatives, has already set up a field office in the district.