Politics & Government

Trump Jr. knocks Democrats as ‘crazies’ while McGrath tells voters to ‘send a message’

Donald Trump Jr.: ‘Let’s not let the crazies take over Kentucky.’

Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, flew to the Montgomery County Airport in Mt. Sterling to endorse Andy Barr in re-election bid for Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District.
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Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, flew to the Montgomery County Airport in Mt. Sterling to endorse Andy Barr in re-election bid for Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District.

For months, Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath and U.S Rep. Andy Barr have stuffed mailboxes, peppered the airwaves and flooded phone lines in their battle for votes in the most expensive race ever seen in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District.

But with a New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday showing a tied race, it comes down to the candidates final push.

For Barr, that meant a series of rallies, including one with Donald Trump Jr. in Mount Sterling . For McGrath, that meant pushing her volunteers to knock on doors and encourage people to vote.

“I don’t need to bring in the president’s son to get a crowd,” McGrath said. “People are coming and they’re coming to work.”

Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath kicks off a canvassing shift with her campaign volunteers on Main Street in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. They were preparing to knock on doors before Election Day, when she faces U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

Barr started the morning by sharing a stage with Donald Trump Jr. in Mount Sterling before heading to rallies in Lexington and Richmond.

In Mount Sterling, a few hundred people pulled out their cellphones as Trump Jr. told them the election was a referendum on his father’s job in office.

“Let’s run up the score,” Trump Jr. said. “Let’s not let the crazies take over Kentucky.”

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Eli Coons, 8-years-old from Mt. Sterling, reacted after Donald Trump Jr., right, called him to the stage as Trump Jr. made a campaign appearance for U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, left, Monday morning inside a hangar at the Montgomery County Airport in Mt. Sterling, Ky. Barr, a Republican incumbent, is running against Democratic Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Trump Jr. is only the latest prominent Republican to campaign in the district. It’s part of a larger strategy that plays up Barr’s influence in Washington as he talks up the Republican tax reform bill and paints a dystopian picture of America under Democratic rule.

“What it underscores for all of my constituents, whether you voted for the president or not, is that I have the ability to have influence with this administration with the executive branch in a way that my opponent could not,” Barr told reporters after the rally. “I think that’s good.”

McGrath scoffed at Barr’s comment.

“He hasn’t had any influence on him (Trump),” McGrath said. “Like, seriously?”

In 2016, Barr won all 19 counties in the district, defeating his Democratic opponent by 22 points on his way to a third term in Washington. But that was before two years of President Donald Trump.

When Barr returned to the district for his first town hall in 2017, he was met with a rambunctious crowd of Democrats calling on him to stand up to the President.

McGrath, Monday, promised to do just that.

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Sixth Congressional District Democratic candidate Amy McGrath, right, talked with 95-year-old Iva Williams, middle, and Williams’ daughter Jacci Jackson, left, as McGrath met with supporters Monday afternoon at her Fayette County Canvass Launch held at 333 East Main Street in Lexington. McGrath is running against Republican incumbent Andy Barr. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

“I think tomorrow we are going to send a message to Kentucky,” McGrath told supporters in Lexington as they gathered for an evening of canvassing neighborhoods. “We are going to send a message to our country. And folks, I think we’re going to send a message to the world about who we are and the types of leaders we want.”

Barr has remained steadfast in his support of the president. As he’s campaigned against McGrath, he’s pinned his hopes for re-election on Trump, betting the district hasn’t radically changed in the last two years.

From the stage, he ran through a list of his attacks on McGrath, from abortion to health care, saying her positions didn’t sound like someone who was planning to put her country over her political party.

“My opponent will deliver dysfunction and gridlock and obstruction to this president,” Barr said.

The Sixth Congressional District is widely considered a swing district. Since 1992, it has been represented by two Democrats and two Republicans. But in 2016, it sent Trump to Washington with a margin of 15 percentage points and gave Barr his largest margin of victory in his last four campaigns.

To overcome the conservative bent of the district, McGrath has tapped into grassroots energy. She’s opened field offices in every county in the district and has made a direct appeal to registered Democrats who have been voting Republican in recent years.

She stressed the importance of going door to door in the final day of the campaign.

“It’s not going to rallies anymore, it’s not,” McGrath said. “It’s knocking on doors, it’s talking to people who may not think they’re going to vote, may not know about why it’s important. It’s talking to people who may be just watching the attack ads.”

The two candidates’ messages had already resonated with the people who came out to support them Monday.

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U.S. Rep. Andy Barr posed for a photo with supporters as Donald Trump Jr., made a campaign appearance for him inside a hangar at the Montgomery County Airport in Mt. Sterling, Ky. Barr, a Republican incumbent, is running against Democratic Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

In Mount Sterling, Larry Lawson, 71, of Madison County, said he thought President Trump has been doing a great job and that he wants to send Barr to Congress to help him. Lawson said that as a former law enforcement officer he was very concerned about immigration.

“I’m totally against open borders,” Lawson said, echoing a Barr attack line. “I don’t think America can feed the whole world.”

At McGrath’s Lexington headquarters, retired teacher Kathy Mattingly, 60, said it was her first time volunteering for a campaign. She homed in on McGrath’s featured policy issue in the campaign: health care.

“I think it’s outrageous that people go bankrupt for health care in this country,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly said she is a lifelong Democrat, but that she has never been more energized to vote, in part because of Trump.

“I will be crushed if she doesn’t win,” Matitngly said of McGrath.

Retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, are making their cases to Kentucky voters in the Sixth Congressional District as Election Day nears.

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