FP1 Strategies is proud to have helped the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) defend Congressman Andy Barr’s seat in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District. We served as CLF’s media consultant in one of the highest profile congressional races of the 2018 cycle, developing hard-hitting ads that eroded the image of a Democratic candidate who raised more than $8 million.
Amy McGrath, a veteran who was the first female Marine to fly in combat, shocked political observers around the nation when she defeated the popular mayor of Lexington in the Democratic primary. At the beginning of the general election, McGrath’s image was 55 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable, and only 39 percent of Kentucky voters viewed her as liberal. As a result, McGrath was leading Andy Barr by a margin of 51 to 38 percent in the summer. McGrath’s star was on the rise and her campaign coffers were being filled with millions of dollars of resistance money from around the nation.
Recognizing the dire situation that Congressman Barr found himself in at the start of the general election, CLF decided to launch an early offensive against McGrath in August to drive up her negatives and make the race competitive. Given the strength of McGrath’s image, we started our ad blitz with a series of testimonials from Kentuckians from all walks of life to push McGrath left. Our singular goal throughout the campaign was to drive up McGrath’s liberal rating and convince a majority of voters that she was out of touch with their conservative values. Another key priority was to use veterans to undermine McGrath’s greatest strength in the race, which was her distinguished military record.
We featured a mom in an ad called “Safe” to highlight McGrath’s liberal positions on illegal immigration. We featured a recipient of two Purple Hearts in an ad called “Claude,” to express the sentiment that voters could respect McGrath’s service, but they didn’t have to give Nancy Pelosi another vote in Congress.
We also filmed a Kentucky coal miner to ensure that voters knew that McGrath had sided with Hillary Clinton over the working people of Kentucky. The ad, “Brent,” attacked McGrath in a personal and dramatic way for supporting the war on coal and undermining a vital job-producing industry for Kentucky.
In addition to having real people from the district litigate our case, we ran a series of ads that used McGrath’s own words against her. The ads, “National Democratic Party,” “Pelosi Liberal,” “Single Payer,” and “Stupid” exposed McGrath in a credible manner for being a liberal who supported open borders, higher taxes and socialized medicine.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, we ran an ad called “4 Million” that contrasted the booming economy and record low unemployment resulting from the middle-class tax cut supported by Congressman Barr with the Pelosi-McGrath liberal agenda that would have taken Kentucky backward. Our final ads of the campaign were testimonials. “Working People” featured another coal miner testimonial and reinforced McGrath’s connection to Hillary Clinton and the war on coal. “Hurt Kentucky” was a man on the street spot that continued our thematic that Amy McGrath was just too liberal for Kentucky, hitting her again for supporting open borders, higher taxes and the war on coal.
By the end of the campaign, we had conducted two film shoots in the district and produced and aired 14 television ads with digital companions and two radio ads. Our media campaign for CLF succeeded in driving McGrath’s negatives to 46 percent and her liberal rating to 70 percent.
On election night, Andy Barr defeated Amy McGrath by a margin of 51 to 48 percent, despite being outspent by nearly $3 million. FP1 is proud to have partnered with CLF to win this race against one of the most heralded and well-funded Democratic congressional candidates in the nation.
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