A Democratic Senate hopeful is under fire in Kentucky after releasing an ad that stirred controversy. Amy McGrath, a primary contender for the Democratic nomination in Kentucky’s Senate race to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), unveiled an ad touting the late Sen. John McCain’s vote on the repeal of Obamacare in 2017.
“You’re watching a historic moment. John McCain is about to vote on Mitch McConnell’s bill to kill the Affordable Care Act, taking healthcare away from millions of Americans. When he signaled no, Mitch McConnell came one vote short. Imagine trying to tackle a global pandemic with millions of Americans uninsured,” the ad says.
The late senator’s vote was, indeed, controversial and cost Leader McConnell a legislative win. But to use Sen. McCain’s legacy, which is laced in bipartisan work, to attack Leader McConnell, is in poor taste. The late Sen. McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, denounced McGrath’s ad and use of her late husband’s legacy for political gain:
I’m disappointed in @AmyMcGrathKY’s use of my late husband #johnmccain image in a partisan attack ad against his good friend @senatemajldr. John’s memory should be used promote common ground and civility not to stoke division.— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) June 10, 2020
Despite Sen. McCain’s widow’s deep discomfort with the ad, McGrath doubled down on the release, contending that she reached out to a family member.
Prior to running this ad, I reached out to a member of the McCain family, who I know, and received encouragement. I am saddened that Mrs. McCain sees this differently, but my intention is to honor Sen. McCain's historic vote that is also a moment of public record. pic.twitter.com/VooSAYL6xg— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) June 10, 2020
This is not McGrath’s first use of GOP figures, and friends of Leader McConnell, in ads to attack the Kentucky Republican. Last month, McGrath used GOP Govs. Mike DeWine (OH) and Larry Hogan (MD) in an ad attacking Sen. McConnell’s leadership, which the pair of governors immediately demanded that she retract.
Leader McConnell's re-election campaign blasted McGrath's ad as "predictable and disgusting:"
Indeed, using Sen. McCain's legacy to attack McConnell is low; the Arizona Republican is widely revered by both Republicans and Democrats as an American hero, and a glowing exemplification of bipartisanship and civility.
Kentucky's primary is set to take place on June 23, and while McGrath was assumed to be the nominee, she faces a challenge from progressive candidate Charles Booker. Far-left lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed Booker this week ahead of the primary.