A Democrat who farms and previously worked as a rural newspaper editor has entered the race to try to upset Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in 2020’s general election, unveiling his campaign with a blunt video.
Mike Broihier (BROY-er) announced his candidacy Thursday with the release of the video that begins with several people holding chalkboard slates with a noun written on them ― descriptors that include “Bitch,” “Thug,” “Hillbilly” and “Queer.” Broihier, a 57-year-old former Marine, in a voiceover says that McConnell uses “labels to reinforce old prejudices, to divide us, to maintain his grip on power.”
The first-time candidate, who moved to Kentucky’s Lincoln County about 14 years ago to farm and worked as an editor at The Interior Journal newspaper, goes on to say he is running “to strip away the labels and strip Mitch McConnell of power.” He said the six-term incumbent has “refined the art of obstruction” and “throws the rules and 200 years of tradition onto the ash heap of history ― democracy be damned.”
“As a Kentucky farmer, educator and small-town newspaper editor, I’ve developed a greater understanding and respect for the challenges and struggles Kentucky’s working families and rural communities face than Mitch McConnell ever has or ever will,” Broihier said in a separate statement. “Their lives, their stories are a part of me.”
Broihier has embraced an unabashedly progressive platform for a solidly red state, telling The Louisville Courier-Journal that he supports abortion rights, background checks for all gun purchases, legalizing marijuana and the goal of closing the gender pay gap. In comments to The Associated Press, he denounced the migrant detention centers at the U.S. southern border and said he would have voted against the 2017 package of tax cuts that McConnell helped steer into law.
Broihier is the second military veteran to emerge as McConnell’s potential Democratic opponent. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, 44, who last year ran a strong but ultimately unsuccessful race for a House seat against a GOP incumbent, entered the race last week.
Her candidacy attracted national attention due to her support from major party leaders, and her bid has already brought in millions of dollars in donations. But she stumbled out of the gate when she told the Courier-Journal that although she had concerns about Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court last fall, she “probably would have voted for him.” She walked back her comments hours later, tweeting, “Upon further reflection and further understanding of [Kavanaugh’s] record, I would have voted no.”
Broihier told the AP that he absolutely would have voted against Kavanaugh ― who won confirmation on a largely party-line vote ― as well as any other judge “who just doesn’t accept the fact that the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade (the1973 case legalizing abortion) correctly.”
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but his campaign posted a tweet Thursday morning saying, “Deleted scene from [Broihier’s] launch video.” The tweet included a photoshopped picture of McGrath holding a chalkboard slate with “Flip Flop” written on it.
Broihier’s campaign quickly responded with a video citing McConnell’s “flip-flopping” about filling a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year. He single-handedly blocked outgoing President Barack Obama from filling such a slot in 2016, citing the pending election, but recently said he would not follow that precedent next year as President Donald Trump seeks a second term.
Broihier has characterized McGrath as the hand-picked candidate” of Washington’s Democratic establishment and that such backing matters little to Kentucky voters. The state’s primary vote is set for next May.
Either Democrat faces an uphill battle against the 77-year-old McConnell. First elected in 1984, his clout in Congress ― and wife Elaine Chao’s post as Trump’s transportation secretary ― pays dividends for Kentucky in terms of federal spending. In 2014, Democrat Alsion Lundergan Grimes ― Kentucky’s secretary of state and a member of a well-known political family ― seemed poised to give him a closely contested race. McConnell defeated her by 15 percentage points.
He also should benefit from sharing next year’s ballot with Trump, who carried the state in 2016 by almost 30 points.