With ‘Kentucky values’ under assault, Joe Biden endorses Amy McGrath

Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath addresses her supporters during the rally on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at Bath County High School in Owingsville, Kentucky. Former Vice President Joe Biden also attended the event and spoke on behalf of McGrath. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Sydney Momeyer

OWINGSVILLE, Ky.—The Sixth Congressional District race gained national attention in recent months, even in the eyes of a former vice president and the standing President of the United States.

On Friday, hundreds of supporters for the Democratic Sixth Congressional District candidate Ret. Lt. Col. Amy McGrath occupied the floors of Bath County High School’s gym to attend a rally and fish fry. There, former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed the House of Representatives candidate.

McGrath won the Democratic Primary in May and is now up against Republican candidate Andy Barr, who has represented the Sixth District since 2013. The two have been going head to head for the last few months, and as the election comes to its closing weeks, the two are pressed now more than ever for votes.

Saturday, President Donald Trump will attend a rally at Eastern Kentucky University to endorse Barr. Last week, it was announced that Biden would be coming to Kentucky to endorse McGrath.

“I’m here for Lt. Col. Amy McGrath,” Biden said.

The event began with participants lining up outside the door hours beforehand to get their spots inside the high school’s gym.    

“We’re here to listen to what Amy has to say,” McGrath supporter Tom Bettrey said. “Plus, to listen to Joe Biden. I wanted to hear him.”

Supporters were able to eat fried fish and socialize before candidates McGrath and Biden spoke.

“I feel like a lot of young people aren’t involved in politics,” McGrath supporter Olivia Irdgeway, 17, said. “It affects, I think, more than anyone else sometimes. I like seeing Amy, I like seeing that she stands for a lot of the things I stand for and that’s why I want to get out here. Even though I can’t vote, I still feel like I can do something.”

First to speak was incumbent Kentucky State Representative Sannie Overly, who has represented the 72nd district since 2008. She introduced McGrath, highlighting her focus on rural counties in Kentucky, rather than just larger cities.

“When Amy said her campaign wouldn’t just involve Lexington and Frankfort, I was thrilled,” Overly said.

Overly also introduced Kentucky State Representative candidate Emily Ferguson, who, if to win, would assume Overly’s position in the Kentucky State government. Ferguson attended law school at UK.

“I am proud to be running to replace Sannie Overly as the next state representative of the 72nd district,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson voiced her support for Kentucky, stating that the people of Kentucky are her main priority.

“I was so proud to stand with the hardworking men and women of Kentucky as they fought to have a seat at the table this past spring,” Ferguson said. “I want everyone in this room to know that I will always stand for you. I will always be your voice.”

After this, McGrath and Biden took the stage and spoke about issues such as uniting parties and standing up for what people believe in.

One of McGrath’s draw for supporters has been her dedication to the military, as she is a Marine veteran and former fighter pilot. Fans held up signs that read, “Veterans love a fighter” and “Country before party.”

“Serving as a United States Marine and wearing that uniform was absolutely the greatest honor of my life,” McGrath said.

Another draw has been McGrath’s refusal to launch attack ads against Barr. Barr has launched ads against her stating that she was “too progressive for Kentucky,” and that she “supports abortion on demand.”

“It is easier to demonize your opponent,” McGrath said. “I have chosen not to do that… Despite the nearly 20 dishonest and mean-spirited attack ads launched against me, I have not gotten into the mud and responded in kind.”

McGrath highlighted the importance of reuniting the parties in Washington, D.C., stating that they need to join back together in order for America to progress.

“We desperately need change in our politics and our country,” McGrath said. “And that’s why I am doing what I’m doing.”

She emphasized the importance of standing up for what people believe in.

“I got into politics because I think our country needs better leaders than we have,” McGrath said. “Leaders who have the courage to tell the truth, and not play into people’s fears and continuously lie about the other side.”

Before Biden spoke, the crowd began chanting, “Run, Joe, run!” referring to the 2020 presidential election.

“Character is the single most lacking commodity for many of those serving us in the United States Congress today,” Biden said.

Biden talked about the importance of this election and how it’s more than just politics.

“No matter how young or how old you are you’ve never been through an election quite like this,” Biden said. “Our basic values, our basic American values are under assault, Kentucky values… Kentucky values that the people right here in Bath County teach their children every day.”

In attendance were UK sophomores Olivia Antigua and Mikayla Spencer. Both are political science majors who said they want to encourage political activism in younger people, particularly, college students.

“Young people have the lowest rate of voter turnout,” Antigua said. “This is a well-known fact. If we just increased turnout just slightly, especially in a race that is considered a turn-up and every poll is debating if Barr is going to win or McGrath is going to win, even getting 20 college friends to show up could make a difference in getting Amy McGrath elected.”

As for McGrath, she advised college students to participate in politics as much as they can.

“Get involved,” she said. “I fought for this country and I want young people to be as proud of this country as I was 20 years ago.”