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“First woman Marine to fly in an F-18 in combat” is running for a Kentucky congressional seat

Democratic congressional candidate and retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath unveiled a new advertisement today, in which she discussed her historic achievement of being the “first woman Marine to fly in an F-18 in combat,” and her aspirations to run for Congress to protect health care access for Kentuckians.

McGrath is running for Kentucky’s sixth congressional district against incumbent Andy Barr, who the ad characterizes as “Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked congressman who said he would vote enthusiastically to take health care away from over a quarter million Kentuckians.” In McGrath’s new ad, after a discussion of her military record, her combat missions, and her achievement as a woman in combat, the ad pivots to a discussion of health care.

“Mr. Barr,” McGrath says, addressing her opponent, “My mom is a polio survivor who became one of the first women to graduate from UK Medical School. A lot of people told her she couldn’t achieve her dreams either, but she persevered and ended up treating many of the same kind of people whose health care you and Mr. McConnell would take away.”

The ad, first reported in Politico Playbook, was designed by Democratic campaign veteran Mark Putnam, who worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Politico first reported in April that the DCCC has been actively recruiting veterans for the 2018 elections, and the New York Times noted earlier in July that roughly 20 veterans had already announced they would run as Democrats for the House.

As Vox’s Jeff Stein wrote in May, Democratic candidates have been trying to shift toward a strategy that can win back the “heartland.” Stein wrote about a new PAC, the People’s House Project, designed to support progressive candidates in more rural regions. The PAC was designed to be “a new form of support that isn’t dependent on the Democratic Party's coastal financial elite” — who are seen by some as out of touch with the middle of the country.

McGrath picks up on this theme in her ad, saying she’s been told that “a Democrat can’t win that battle in Kentucky.” She responds, “We’ll see about that.”