Kentucky Politics

While Mitch McConnell oversaw the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, candidates trying to unseat him in the Senate participated in a televised debate on KET.

Democratic candidate Amy McGrath and Libertarian Brad Barron criticized McConnell for rushing the confirmation through eight days before the General Election and not participating in the debate.

McGrath said that McConnell should be focused on passing another coronavirus relief bill instead of confirming Coney Barrett.

“We need more aid, that’s what Kentuckians need right now for families, schools, businesses. And what’s Sen. McConnell doing right now? He’s ramming through a Supreme Court nominee eight days until an election,” McGrath said.

Barron accused McConnell of intentionally scheduling the confirmation vote on the night of the debate.

“This is a KET tradition here to do this, and where is Sen. McConnell? He’s in D.C., he’s not here in Kentucky. I think tradition is something that’s very important to Kentucky,” Barron said.

First elected in 1984, McConnell is running for his seventh term in the Senate. He has made confirming conservative judges to federal courts a priority throughout President Donald Trump’s four year term.

McConnell and McGrath’s campaign Twitter accounts traded barbs mid-debate. McGrath’s campaign criticized McConnell for not appearing on a debate stage with a female moderator in 25 years and Team Mitch replied “Sorry, busy confirming a woman to SCOTUS.”

McConnell campaign spokesperson Kate Cooksey wrote in a statement that the debates showed McGrath and Barron would not work for Kentucky families and job creators.

“The two liberal puppets at the debate tonight treated Kentuckians to an infomercial on what a disaster an extreme, progressive agenda would be for Kentucky,” Cooksey wrote.

McConnell and McGrath participated in only one debate during the race, hosted by Gray Television on October 12.

The two have sparred over what to include in another coronavirus relief package, which is unlikely to pass before Election Day.

During the debate, McGrath said she would support Trump’s call for a $1.8 trillion package, which McConnell has rebuffed

“Sen. McConnell is the one that has this teeny-tiny bill that he throws out there that is just all politics and no substance, and that really hurts people,” McGrath said

McConnell held a vote on a $500 billion aid package last week, but it failed to get enough votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

A poll conducted last week showed McConnell leading McGrath 51% to 42%, with Barron netting 4% and 3% undecided.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.