Politics & Government

Barr's first TV ad focuses on his Kentucky ties, a not-so-subtle jab at McGrath

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr's first TV ad of the 2018 general election features his wife, Carol, and their two daughters.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr's first TV ad of the 2018 general election features his wife, Carol, and their two daughters. YouTube screenshot

In his first television ad of the general election, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr decided to make a list.

The minute-long ad, announced Tuesday, highlights dozens of places and events the Republican from Lexington has visited in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, which is expected to be a battleground as Democrats try to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Girls, your daddy Andy was born and raised in Central Kentucky and he loves listening to the people here,” Barr’s wife, Carol, says to their daughters before listing places and events in the district for the remaining 52 seconds of the ad.

Barr’s campaign said the ad focused on his “strong ties” to the district, a not-so-subtle nod to the fact that his opponent, Democrat Amy McGrath, retired from the military and moved to the district in 2017, just before announcing her bid for Congress. Barr does not mention McGrath in the ad.

Since the primary election, Barr has attempted to paint McGrath as a liberal Democrat with weak ties to Kentucky. In his statement after McGrath won the primary, Barr said she “doesn’t understand our district or its values.”

Barr, a Lexington native who attended college at the University of Virginia, has spent most of his life in Central Kentucky. McGrath, a former fighter pilot in the Marine Corps, was born and raised in Northern Kentucky and spent 20 years in the military before moving to Georgetown in July 2017.

“I guess the ad where he drives around the district taking health care away from his constituents didn’t test as well,” said Mark Nickolas, McGrath’s campaign manager.

This isn’t the first time McGrath has seen an ad that emphasizes her newcomer status. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray launched a negative ad against McGrath days before the May 22 primary election that highlighted her recent move to the district. The ad backfired and both veteran groups and veterans in Congress called it an attack on McGrath’s military service.

The Barr campaign wouldn’t say how long it plans to air the ad. The campaign has a significant financial advantage over McGrath, who won an expensive primary against Gray and others.

McGrath has not yet run ads for the general election, but was on the air for much of the spring with ads that highlighted her military background and family.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic group, also launched a 30-second digital ad Tuesday against Barr.