Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a Marine Corps veteran, released a video on Tuesday to formally announce that she is running for Barr's seat in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. The video is full of compelling visuals about her time in the military.
"This is my new mission: to take on a Congress full of career politicians who treat the people of Kentucky like they're disposable," McGrath says in the video.
The announcement begins with McGrath highlighting her military service, saying she was the first female Marine to fly an F-18 in a combat mission.
"When I was 12 years old, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up," McGrath says in the video. "I wanted to fly fighter jets and land on aircraft carriers, because that's the toughest flying you can do."
McGrath goes on to say that when she was 13, she was informed by her congressman after writing him a letter that she wouldn't be able to achieve that dream because "women ought to be protected and not allowed to serve in combat."
Her senator, Mitch McConnell, never answered her letter, she said.
McGrath says she went to the Naval Academy anyway, and while she was there the law was changed and women were allowed to serve in combat. She then had a 20-year military career, in which she flew 89 combat missions, including bombings targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Now, McGrath is running against Barr, whom she calls McConnell's "hand-picked choice" for the seat, and who defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2012. Barr has recently faced criticism from his constituents at town halls because of his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act,
which provided insurance to nearly half a million people in Kentucky by expanding the state's Medicaid program.
"Mr. Barr, my mom is a polio survivor who became one of the first women to graduate from UK Medical School," McGrath says, addressing her opponent. "She persevered and ended up treating many of the same kind of people whose health care that you and Mr. McConnell would take away."
McGrath is the third Democrat to announce her campaign for the seat. She joins state Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington and perennial Democratic candidate Geoff Young in the race.
Barr won his 2016 re-election bid by more than 20 points. However, Democrats are aiming to capitalize on President Trump's low approval ratings thus far and challenge GOP-held House seats during the 2018 midterm elections.