But no matter how much money Ms. McGrath may raise from Democrats across the country eager to dispatch Mr. McConnell, she will still face a formidable challenge.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky’s longest serving senator, is “one of the most powerful political machines that’s ever existed,” said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and co-founder of VoteVets.org, a liberal political action committee that supports veterans running for office.
“It takes someone with a compelling, nonpolitical profile to break through that,” Mr. Soltz said. “When you talk about Amy McGrath, you’re talking about someone who has the credibility, with her profile, to reach people outside the Democratic base, independents, even Republicans. That’s what will break the McConnell machine.”
Among the 67 new Democrats in Congress, 10 served in the military or intelligence agencies and were instrumental in returning control of the House to Democrats. The group has formed a tight bond in the 116th Congress. Many of those members, especially the women, campaigned with Ms. McGrath and are eager to see her run.
“I’m excited to support my friend Amy McGrath,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who last year eked out a victory against a Republican incumbent. “Her race to defeat Senate majority leader McConnell should matter to any American, regardless of party, who wants to see us get stuff done in Washington for the American people.”
Other candidates may file to run as Democrats in Kentucky next year, but Ms. McGrath is the only prominent potential nominee.
She put up a stronger fight against Mr. Barr than he had faced in recent elections, losing by about three percentage points. And there are certainly no givens in American politics, especially for incumbents like Mr. McConnell who are associated with Washington’s enduring dysfunction.