A Marine veteran and Democrat who narrowly lost her race to represent Kentucky in the House in the 2018 midterm elections is now challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the 2020 race.

Retired Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a 20-year Marine combat veteran and former F/A-18D fighter pilot, announced in a video July 9 that she was running to replace McConnell, who has served in the Senate since 1985.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a Democrat, is challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the 2020 elections. Screenshot: Amy McGrath

A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, McGrath was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 1999 and subsequently served as a F/A-18 Weapons Systems Officer to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121. She deployed as a captain to Kyrgyzstan in 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and flew combat missions in Afghanistan. She also served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the Naval Academy.

McGrath then transitioned to become an F/A-18 pilot and deployed to areas including East Asia and Afghanistan, and flew in exercises in Alaska, Egypt, Australia, Korea, Japan and the continental United States. Before her retirement in June 2017, McGrath also served as a congressional fellow for House Armed Services Committee (HASC) member Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and worked in the Pentagon as the Marine liaison to federal agencies including the State Department.

McGrath, 44, ran in 2018 to serve Kentucky’s 6th congressional district, but lost to incumbent Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr (R-Ky.), who won 51 percent of the vote compared to McGrath’s 47.8 percent.

She raised over $8.5 million for that campaign and ended the race with about $267,000 on hand, while Barr raised about $5.2 million and spent nearly $5.6 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

McConnell, 77, raised over $30.8 million for his 2014 Senate reelection campaign, in which he beat Kentucky’s Secretary of State and Democrat Alison Grimes with 56 percent of the vote. He received $273,850 in contributions from defense contractors for that race.

With McGrath’s announcement, the top two Republican leaders in the Senate will be challenged by Democrat military veterans in 2020. Air Force combat veteran MJ Hegar announced in April that she would run to unseat the number-two Republican in the upper chamber, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) (Defense Daily, April 23). Hegar narrowly lost her own House race to incumbent Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) in 2018.