McGrath's Money Comes with a Catch

The #Resistance is ready to fund Mitch McConnell's opponent, but what will they think if their dream comes crashing down?

Missed this week’s podcast? We talked Louisville’s win against Wake Forest, gearing up for basketball season, recruiting foibles and of course the Governor’s race.

Gabe Duverge

A man wearing an Eddie Guerrero (RIP) t-shirt approaches a bar in Austin, Texas. He hands over his ID to the kind lady and asks for a beer.

“First Kentucky ID I’ve ever seen. So we have you to blame for Mitch McConnell…”

He pauses, gathers and laughs. Tries to play it cool (but does so poorly.)

“Uh not my call…” he replies before grabbing his cerveza and slowly walking away.

***

Since November 2016, I’ve noticed that the reaction to telling people where I’m from has changed. It’s no longer a look of surprise that I don’t match their rural stereotype. Or worse the brutal joke about not wearing shoes.

It’s about Mitch McConnell.

Our hyper-partisan, ‘everything is politics’ landscape has seen Mitch McConnell supplant KFC as Kentucky’s most visible export. Coastal Elites (I’m using it as a term of endearment here I swear) see McConnell as a man they don’t agree with from a place they don’t know who has an out-sized impact on how this country is run.

They also see that he’s quite unpopular. Morning Consult’s latest Senator approval rankings put McConnell right at the top with a massive 50 percent disapproval rating.

This is a conundrum for members of the #Resistance, who see a massively powerful yet very unpopular leader who keeps winning elections bigly.

Instead of judging Kentucky’s (and thus Louisville’s) merits on other more realistic things. People are willing to discard our city and state because more people voted for the red guy than the blue guy. And you…yeah you…you’re apparently a part of the problem.

Enter Amy McGrath.   

We’ve covered her missteps in the past, but McGrath from a PR perspective is an ideal foil for McConnell. As a veteran and a woman, she’s able to play on the sensibilities that won the house for Democrats in 2018, while still projecting an image that Democrats believe their GOP counterparts are willing to switch sides for. And that has helped her raise a whole lot of money.

This week, the challenger to the longtime senator revealed that her campaign brought in more than $10.7 million dollars this past quarter. Most of these contributions are small donations, with the average sitting at only $36. It’s a positively gigantic haul that is more than what all but five of the 2020 presidential candidates took in.

McConnell is incredibly unpopular in Kentucky too, and McGrath’s campaign will tell you that she received a donation from every one of the state’s 120 counties.

But the McConnell campaign will tell you that this support is the work of “Hollywood liberals” pouring in money from outside the state.

According to McGrath’s filing with the Federal Election Commission we can surmise that most of her money is from outside Kentucky. 8208 donors are named in her Q3 report (only donors who have given >$200 in total are listed), only 710 came from a Kentucky address. Unfortunately, we don’t have the full total of how much came from where, but I think we can say with confidence that more than 50% of her money came from out of state.

Again, let’s be clear that McConnell’s hands aren’t clean of this either. Only 347 of the 5208 contributions he reported in Q3 came from Kentucky addresses. He’s receiving plenty of money from people across the country that want to see his agenda move forward on a grand scale.

The issue here is that all this money from well-meaning folks desperately wanting to have an impact in a place they don’t live comes with expectation.

Just maybe with all this support behind McGrath…she’ll win.  

I’m a generally positive guy, but the reality is that McGrath probably won’t win. And then the thousands of folks who tossed their monthly coffee money to her campaign get mad.

But they won’t be mad at McConnell. They’ll be mad at us, the folks trying to make a difference but can’t quite turn the tide for reasons that could fill a J.D. Vance book.

There’s much better places for this money to go as well. In Colorado, where Democrats have the best chance of picking up a GOP Senate seat, former governor and 2020 hopeful John Hickenlooper only raised $2 million dollars, a third of what incumbent Cory Gardner did. In Maine, challenger Sara Gideon also raised less than Susan Collins. Hell, Doug Jones of Alabama is looking to keep his seat and could definitely use the funds.

Sadly, I don’t think there’s anything we can do about this phenomenon. As long as McConnell is a top level target of Democratic ire, McGrath will continue to drag in millions of dollars. She’ll continue to divert money and attention away from closer races. And worst of all Kentuckians will keep getting accosted by bartenders in cities near and far.


Local Links

In 2012, Louisville Metro Police took a new look at how they approached police chases. Since the new rules were implemented chases have risen 52%, injuries have more than doubled and seven people have died. Why make the change, what is it costing all of us, and where do we go from here? Another remarkable piece from the Courier-Journal’s investigation unit.

As Louisville fans we hate being called “little brother” and I’m sure those in the city’s beer community hate it too. While ‘bourbonism’ has taken full hold of the city’s tourism attention, the fledgling beer community has had to make more with less. But those efforts are finally coming to a head, as outlined in this story from the LEO’s annual beer issue by Kevin Gibson.

Got 14 minutes to spare? Stadium’s Michael Felder and Chris Martin just dropped this stellar breakdown on what’s going right for Scott Satterfield and Louisville football. I’m a sucker for extended replay investigations and man this is about as good as they come. 

We’ve talked on the podcast about the One Park project at length. Nobody has covered the story better than Chris Otts of WDRB (who’s also been in the tee box for the Top Golf affair.) The latest is that the Louisville planning board has unanimously endorsed the project despite NIMBY pushback. Will this go the way of everyone’s favorite casual golf join with a lawsuit? Who knows.

The duPont Manual alumni Facebook group is a fascinating place. The juxtaposition of what is certainly the state’s most diverse and liberal student body against graduates from the 60s & 70s who are quite annoyed with how kids acts these days leads to flame wars at least once a month. The latest topic: should Manual be proud of it’s new five-star rating from the KY department of education. The Manual Redeye’s EIC says naw...and I’m inclined to agree with her.

I’ve always enjoyed Joseph Gerth’s levity in his Courier-Journal columns. His recent musing on current events near and far while in line for coffee at Krispy Kreme was a breath of fresh air in what felt like a stuffy week.


White Reaper Does It Again!

You Deserve Love mural by Often Seen Rarely Spoken

Louisville’s best American band has dropped their latest effort, You Deserve Love. What’s great about White Reaper is that they offer a sound that just about everyone can latch onto. Big time guitar riffs that sound fresh out of a 70s classic rock album. Pop wrinkles that feel at home in the indie pop landscape. These are just songs that are easy to get down with.

Check out You Deserve Love wherever you listen to music.


Outside the Snyder

I am beyond excited for Sunday’s premiere of the HBO drama “Watchmen.” The legendary comic series (as a millennial I read it as a graphic novel) has become a TV series, led by Lost creator Damon Lindelof. “Watchmen” was one of those cultural things for me that truly expanded my mind and all preconceived notions I had for how serious stories could be told. And reader I’m still on the “Lost was good” train so this is extremely Gabe. If you’re like me (or if you want to know what the hubbub is about) I’d recommend this look at the series’ place in the cultural zeitgeist from the NY Times and the gawd Alan Sepinwall’s interview with Lindelof himself.

Big time rankings are always fraught with points and numbers that just feel flat wrong. But maybe...that’s the point. This Pitchfork list of the top 200 songs of the 2010s is far from perfect but I’d argue the collection of 200 songs is on frame and I’ve been poking in and out of the playlist since first seeing it.  

“Judges have issued warrants for people who owe money to landlords and payday lenders, who never paid off furniture, or day care fees, or federal student loans. Some debtors who have been arrested owed as little as $28.” ProPublica’s look at how debt collectors are filling America’s prisons is absolutely chilling.

Mina Kimes never fails to get the best from her interview subjects. Her feature on DeAndre Hopkins and his mother’s story of survival is raw and about as revealing as one can be on the driving forces behind an athlete. 

America’s third-largest school system is closed because of a teacher strike. Critics want you to believe it’s only about money. There’s always money involved, but that is by no means the full story. Hamilton Nolan of Deadspin (yes the sports blog) offers a real look at the strike and why teachers have had enough. 

On Thursday, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings died at the age of 68. Cummings was an absolute titan and in the past few years has become one of the leaders I most admire. He had many strong remembrances, but Tyler Tynes of The Ringer’s look from the perspective of a young black former Hill reporter felt uniquely important to me.


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