The first-day total is a new record in fundraising for Senate campaigns, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told the New York Times. McGrath's campaign said the $2.5 million came from about 69,000 donors. The average contribution was $36.15 per donor.
McGrath saw her profile rise nationwide after a video announcing her candidacy for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District went viral in August 2017. In the video, McGrath explains how when she was 13, she wrote to McConnell — who was already a senator at the time — about her dream of flying fighter jets. McConnell never responded, but the ban on women flying in combat was dropped in 1993 and McGrath went on to serve in the Marines for 20 years, flying 89 combat missions and becoming a lieutenant colonel. She is the nation's first female Marine to fly an F-18 fighter jet in combat.
McGrath went on to win the district's highly competitive primary, but was defeated by Rep. Andy Barr in the 2018 midterm election.
McConnell has been in office since 1985 and is well-known for his impressive war chest. During the 2014 midterm elections, his last re-election, he spent more than $30 million. But McGrath proved herself to be an aggressive fundraiser during the 2018 midterms, leading Democrats to believe she has the national profile and fundraising capabilities to be a worthy challenger to McConnell. According to Politico, McGrath raised more than $8 million for her House race and has an established online fundraising base.
In her announcement video on Tuesday, McGrath said she's running against McConnell because he embodies the Washington, D.C., establishment's failures to truly represent and advocate for the needs of everyday Americans.
"Everything that’s wrong with Washington had to start someplace," she said. "Well, it started with this man who was elected a lifetime ago, and who has — bit by bit, year by year — turned Washington into something we all despise, where dysfunction and chaos are political weapons, where budgets and healthcare and the Supreme Court are held hostage."