Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath shook up her campaign Friday with just 81 days to go in her race against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats ‘can’t have universal mail-in voting’ Overnight Health Care: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal | US records deadliest day of summer | Georgia governor drops lawsuit over Atlanta’s mask mandate Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal MORE (R-Ky.).
McGrath’s campaign said in a statement it is tapping Dan Kanninen as campaign manager, replacing Mark Nickolas. Kanninen most recently served as states director on former New York City mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump threatens Postal Service funding l Biden proposes national mask mandate l Democratic convention takes shape Bloomberg to speak at Democratic convention Everytown on the NRA lawsuit: ‘Come November, we’re going to make sure they’re out of power, too’ MORE’s presidential campaign and had worked for both of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS blocking private charter flights to Cuba Biden, Harris to address Democratic convention from Chase Center in Delaware Kamala Harris is now under the protection of Secret Service: report MORE’s presidential campaigns and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal Gloria Steinem: Selection of Kamala Harris recognizes that ‘black women … are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party’ MORE’s 2016 White House bid.
Nickolas will remain on the McGrath campaign to oversee its paid media effort and will hold the title of senior adviser.
“There is no more destructive force in Washington than Mitch McConnell—he is the architect of the dysfunction that is hurting Kentuckians,” Kanninen said. “After 36 years, he’s only enriched himself, while Kentucky’s economy has been wrecked, and now has failed to act in the face of a pandemic. Amy has served her country for more than 20 years, and she will continue to fight for Kentucky as senator. I’m honored to be a part of that fight.”
McConnell’s campaign took aim at McGrath’s team over the shakeup, saying the Democrat was looking for “someone with better expertise in lighting millions on fire,” apparently referencing Bloomberg’s unsuccessful White House campaign into which he sunk hundreds of millions of his own dollars.
They needed to find someone with better expertise in lighting millions on fire. #KYSen https://t.co/A3ol9SdHmz
— Team Mitch (Text MITCH to 47360) (@Team_Mitch) August 14, 2020
The campaign shakeup comes amid warning signs for McGrath, who first caught Democrats’ attention when she narrowly lost a House challenge in a Republican district in 2018.
McGrath, a Marine veteran, has raised eye-popping sums of money in the Kentucky Senate race, hauling in $17.4 million in the second quarter, and has long been Democrats’ chosen candidate to take on McConnell. But she ended up facing a tougher-than-expected primary challenge from state Rep. Charles Booker, ultimately eking out a 3-point win after outspending him on the airwaves by a nearly 10 to 1 margin.
Recent polls have also showed McGrath trailing McConnell, with a Quinnipiac University survey showing her trailing by 5 and a Morning Consult poll showing McConnell with a comfortable 17-point lead. Earlier surveys had shown a tighter race.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the Senate race as “likely” Republican.