U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath hit the campaign trail Friday in Paducah, where she stopped by the Seamen’s Church Institute, learned about its work helping mariners and shared her views on various issues.

McGrath, the Democratic challenger against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, visited with senior river chaplain the Rev. Kempton Baldridge on Friday afternoon and toured the church’s chapel at its Water Street location. Baldridge discussed the institute’s history and imparted lots of information for McGrath, including about Paducah’s native son, Rear Admiral “Jumping” Joe Clifton, who was a distinguished Navy pilot.

“I wasn’t there to talk politics,” Baldridge told The Sun. “I’m there to just talk with a fellow vet, but also, because we’re proud of Paducah. I love it when people can tell our story elsewhere.”

The entire visit lasted roughly an hour.

McGrath, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and fighter pilot, also took time to address media outlets afterward about different issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, her Republican opponent in McConnell and her message for Kentuckians who voted in the June 23 primary election.

She explained she’d been in Paducah on Friday talking with local leaders and other people, finding out what’s on their minds and how they’re dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as about what people want from a senator and what they need from leaders in Washington.

“People are angry,” McGrath said. “People are upset. You know, a lot of people are out of work, and we need leadership. That’s why I’m here. I’m going all around the state talking to people, that’s what this is all about.”

In response to questions from media outlets, McGrath stressed the COVID-19 pandemic is not a political hoax and we need to start listening to scientists and public health experts. She cited that approximately 140,000 Americans have died in the last four to five months.

She thinks it needs to be tackled with a national plan.

“That means we have to listen to scientists, listen to our Centers for Disease Control and those people that are experts, and what do they say? They say that the only way to get this thing under control — to mitigate it, so that we can get our economy back, so that we can mitigate the loss of life — is national testing and tracing,” she said.

“It’s not good enough just to have tests and have the results come back two weeks later. You’ve got to have them quickly so that we can isolate people and get this pandemic under control.”

McGrath also criticized McConnell for actions related to the pandemic, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. She asserted that he championed a “big, fat slush fund for big corporations.”

“That’s what he championed and then two weeks after that, or three weeks after that was passed, what did he say to us? To state and local governments? To school teachers? To firefighters? What did he say? ‘Well, you all ought to go bankrupt, you ought to consider bankruptcy,’ ” she said.

McGrath said we’re “in this together.”

“I mean that is what I learned in the United States Marine Corps,” she said.

“That’s what we learn in the Navy. We’re in this together, all walks of life, different ethnicities, different religions, different backgrounds — we got to get through this pandemic together. And that means that you can’t just be the representative, the senator, for your special interests. It means you got to be the representative and senator for all of us.”

In regards to the primary, McGrath noted that State Rep. Charles Booker, D-Louisville, and his supporters brought “amazing energy.” She said people came out in large numbers to vote in the primary and it tells her that people are “fired up” and want their voices heard.

“They are tired of Mitch McConnell and they want change,” she said.

“My message to anyone who voted in this primary, whether they voted for me or voted for somebody else, is — I hear you. I want change too. I hear you on the issues of health care and I hear you on the issues of racial disparities and the problems that we face in this country and the idea that we need good quality jobs … where you don’t have to have three jobs to make ends meet. I hear you.”

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