Politics & Government

Amy McGrath just raised way more money than Andy Barr. Five things that tells you.

Rep. Andy Barr and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath
Rep. Andy Barr and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath

Democratic challenger Amy McGrath has raised more money than incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr throughout their campaign for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District seat.

McGrath pulled in a whopping $3.65 million in the third fundraising quarter, which spans from July to September, boosting her total to $6.69 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Barr brought in $1.22 million during the third quarter, raising his campaign total to $4.4 million.

The toss-up race is one of the most-watched in the country and could help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

McGrath’s $3.65 million in the third quarter is more than either Barr or his 2012 opponent, former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, raised during their entire campaigns that year.

Here are five things you need to know about the eye-popping fundraising totals for McGrath and Barr as Election Day nears.

Mo’ money, no problem

Since McGrath still has $1.75 million on hand and Barr still has $1.29 million on hand, neither should have to worry about money in the final stretch of the campaign.

But what they do with those large sums will likely help decide the election.

McGrath has spent more money in the race so far, a total of $4.94 million since she announced last summer. More than $2 million of that went into an expensive primary with State Sen. Reggie Thomas and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

Meanwhile, without a well-funded primary opponent, Barr was able to focus his attention on the general election and defining McGrath.

He has spent $3.66 million on an aggressive television ad campaign built around defining McGrath as “too liberal for the district.”

McGrath, too, has had plenty of ads on TV. She’s also used her money to open 20 field offices in the district, one in every county and two in Lexington.

But why do I see so many ads for Barr and against McGrath?

McGrath has raised more money than Barr, but the campaign’s fundraising totals don’t reflect how much money outside groups are pumping into the district.

Barr is backed by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican political action committee associated with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The group set up a field office early this year so they could make phone calls and knock on doors on behalf of Barr. By September, it had spent more than $1.2 million on television ads, which is more than Barr spent in the same time frame.

After being vastly outspent by Barr and the Congressional Leadership Fund this summer, McGrath upped the amount she spent on television and has recently been bolstered with ads paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

McGrath’s national support

McGrath isn’t the only Democratic candidate who announced a big fundraising quarter in October. From Maine to California, Democrat after Democrat announced “unprecedented amounts of money,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Democrats across the country see winning the midterm elections as a way to take control of Congress and put a check on President Donald Trump after his come-from-behind victory in 2016.

There may be 435 seats in Congress, but most of those races aren’t competitive. That means some of the Democrats who live in liberal-leaning cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, choose to send money to places like Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District, where their contribution could help Democrats flip the seat.

Barr has highlighted the fact that a lot of McGrath’s money has come from outside Kentucky as he attempts to tie her to the national party.

“The national liberal ‘resistance’ and extreme left are funding Amy McGrath’s campaign because she’ll be another vote for Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda,” said Jodi Whitaker, Barr’s spokeswoman.

Barr’s bankers

One of the advantages of being an incumbent is that companies and industry groups send campaign donations to lawmakers who align with their interests.

Barr sits on the House Financial Services committee, which means a significant chunk of his donations come from the financial industry.

A little more than 40 percent of the money Barr has raised this election cycle has come from political action committees, compared to 3.6 percent for Amy McGrath.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, four of the top five industries donating to Barr’s campaign were securities and investment, insurance, commercial banks and real estate.

The Democratic groups supporting McGrath have attacked Barr for his close ties to the financial sector. In an ad Barr unsuccessfully petitioned to get removed from TV, the veterans PAC With Honor pointed out that he took $32,000 from payday lenders and then voted to remove regulations on the industry. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said Barr supports “wall street” instead of Kentuckians.

What does all this tell me about who will win?

Very little.

Just because McGrath is leading in fundraising doesn’t mean she’ll win on Election Day.

At most, the numbers tell you the race is competitive, and it will stay competitive to the end.

President Donald Trump took the stage at EKU in Richmond to wild applause to tout his administration’s successes, and to rally support for Republican Andy Barr in his Congressional race. “The election of Andy is a really important thing."

Former US vice president Joe Biden speaks as a special guest at Amy McGrath's congressional rally at Bath County High School, Friday October 12, commenting that "Kentucky values are under assault."