The six Democratic candidates competing for Republican Rep. Andy Barr’s congressional seat sat down for their final debate Monday night, with two leading contenders sparring over their relationship to the party.
During Monday’s night’s KET forum – the last scheduled before the May 22 primaries – tensions flared briefly between Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and retired Lt. Col. Amy McGrath.
Quizzed on whether she would support California Rep. Nancy Pelosi for another round as speaker should Democrats take back the House in November, McGrath struck a defiant tone.
"The Democratic Party leadership recruited and backed Jim Gray to get into the race against me, so I have no love or allegiance to them," she replied, repeating her mantra that a new generation needs to be heard on Capitol Hill. "I'm not just talking in terms of age, although the leadership there is 78, 78, 77 – shouldn't we have just one that isn't around that age? I think that's important."
Still, the retired fighter pilot stopped short of committing to a “no” vote on Pelosi, saying she would need to see the full slate of candidates for the post first.
Appearing to take a firmer stance, Gray said it’s time for a leadership change on his side of the aisle in the lower chamber, as he returned fire on McGrath’s comments.
"I was encouraged to make this race by a number of people," the mayor remarked, pressing his opponent to "acknowledge she was recruited by people from Washington to make this race and by others."
McGrath shot back with, "You know who recruited Amy McGrath? Amy McGrath."
State Sen. Reggie Thomas, Daniel Kemph, Theodore Green, and Geoff Young rounded out the hour-long panel, which also discussed healthcare, marijuana legalization, and efforts to reach out to rural voters.
In a week, 6th District voters head to the polls to select the party's nominee to take on incumbent Rep. Andy Barr.