Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Last Call For Marking Mitch

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer would love nothing more than to see Mitch McConnell go down in flames next year, and he may have found just the fighter pilot for the job.

Chuck Schumer is actively recruiting a high-profile fighter pilot to take on Mitch McConnell in 2020 — a calculated act of aggression against a leading Republican foe.

Schumer met with Amy McGrath, a Marine veteran-turned 2018 congressional candidate, at Democratic Party headquarters last month to pitch her on running against McConnell. McGrath listened and didn’t rule it out. The Democratic leader first contacted McGrath in December.

McConnell, the longest-serving Senate GOP leader, is gearing up for a reelection fight and leaving little to chance. His political team has begun compiling opposition research on McGrath and delving into video tracking footage of her. On Wednesday, senior Republican Party officials involved with a pro-McConnell super PAC will meet in Washington to begin mapping out a potential campaign against McGrath.

The Republican leader has also tapped a 2020 campaign manager: Kevin Golden, a veteran party operative who worked on McConnell’s 2014 reelection bid and oversaw Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn’s successful 2018 Senate campaign.

Schumer’s offensive underscores the frayed relations between the two Senate leaders. In recent months, they have sparred bitterly on issues ranging from judicial nominees to the federal shutdown.

While it’s not unprecedented for one Senate leader to try to unseat a counterpart, the recruitment mission is an unmistakable act of hostility that’s sure to ratchet up tensions.

Joining Schumer for the meeting with McGrath were Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, as well as top DSCC officials Scott Fairchild and Devan Barber. McGrath aides Mark Nickolas and Lori LaFave also attended.

Nickolas confirmed the meeting but said that no decision was imminent.

“The military officer in her always approaches these things pretty methodically and thoughtfully,” he said.

Alison Grimes certainly has no chance, and McGrath actually came a lot closer in her Lexington house race than a lot of people thought she would  I'm all for it.  She can't do much worse than Grimes's 15-point loss in 2014, either.

I'm glad that Schumer is trying to recruit now, certainly.  The danger is that the gubernatorial race this year is going to suck all the oxygen out of the state until at least the end of the year, and Mitch can take advantage of that.  Anyone the Dems have committed to going after Matt Bevin's job will still be in a position to join the 2020 race, and that means the field could get crowded by this time next year.

We'll see.  McGrath hasn't said yes, and while it will definitely be one of the big races of 2020, I worry that McGrath isn't going to be "progressive enough" for national supporters who will simply write her off as another Claire McCaskill or Kay Hagan, and write Kentucky off with it.

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