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Amy McGrath's loss in Kentucky House race is a bad sign for the "blue wave"

Democrats had hopped to flip this Republican seat with former combat pilot.

by Emma Ockerman
Nov 7 2018, 2:10am

Democratic first-time candidate Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot for the Marine Corps, lost a closely watched race for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District to Republican Rep. Andy Barr Tuesday night. Although it was a surprisingly tight race, McGrath’s loss spells trouble for the overwhelming “blue wave” Democrats had hoped for when campaigning for control of the House.

By the time the Associated Press called the race, Barr had won the swing district, which includes Lexington, by nearly 51 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, according to the New York Times. Trump won the swing district, which includes includes Lexington, by 15 points in 2016. Barr took it that same year by 22 points.

“It’s not a seat Democrats needed, but it’s one they wanted, for sure,” Nathaniel Rakich, an elections analyst at Five Thirty Eight, wrote Tuesday.

Read: 11 states have no women in Congress. These candidates are trying to change that.

Like many of the women running in record-breaking numbers this year, McGrath jumped into politics after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. But her campaign truly got started, at least on the national stage, after an ad depicting her life as a pioneering fighter pilot went viral.

That ad helped McGrath raise a staggering $7.7 million, about $3 million more than Barr, according to the Center on Responsive Politics. It also helped make the race the most expensive election in the district’s history, the Lexington Herald reported.

Kentucky is one of 11 states with no women in its congressional delegation.

Read: Two female Democratic candidates just flipped their red districts

Cover: Democratic U.S. House of Representatives candidate for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District Amy McGrath speaks to campaign volunteers with her daughter Eleanor Henderson during a canvassing launch November 3, 2018 in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. McGrath, a former Marine Corps pilot, challenged incumbent Republican Rep. Andy Barr. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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