McGrath raises $2.5M in 24 hours after announcing challenge to McConnell

Posted at 10:32 AM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 11:32:37-04

(CNN) — Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath raised $2.5 million in the first 24 hours since mounting a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, her campaign said Wednesday, a significant haul for a candidate who Democrats see as a strong contender in their quest to retake the US Senate next year.

McGrath faces long odds in unseating McConnell, a fundraising juggernaut himself, and despite outraising her Republican opponent last year she was unable to get elected to the US House. But Wednesday's figures are nonetheless a sign of enthusiasm for her candidacy.

She received more than 69,000 individual donations online with an average contribution of $36, her campaign manager Mark Nickolas said.

McGrath's fundraising haul is more than that of retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who raised more than $1 million in the first day after he announced his Democratic campaign for US Senate in Arizona.

McGrath's candidacy in the Kentucky Senate race marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats.

A former fighter pilot, McGrath rose to national prominence last year in her congressional race against Republican Andy Barr. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising force, raking in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and became a Democratic celebrity in the process.

But even as she outraised Barr by $3 million, McGrath failed to win the race, losing to her Republican competitor by about 3 points.

McGrath also has her work cut out for her in a state that went to President Donald Trump in 2016 by nearly 30 points. Trump's name at the top of the ticket in 2020 will also likely bring Republican voters to the polls.

McConnell is an accomplished fundraiser in his own right. His reelection campaign has raised over $2 million since January and has more than $5.5 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

In 2014, the last time he ran for reelection, McConnell raised nearly $27 million and trounced his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by 15 points.

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