McGrath Statement on Senate Race Debates

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sen. Mitch McConnell has refused to participate in a debate with a female moderator in the race for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat despite calls from his opponent, retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, to include a female voice in the forum. McGrath announced today that despite McConnell’s stance on female moderators, it’s important for voters to have the opportunity to hear directly from candidates in this race and therefore has agreed to participate in the Gray Television debate. 

McGrath’s full statement:

In August I accepted an offer to participate in the KET Kentucky Tonight Forum on Oct. 26, which will be hosted by Renee Shaw, a respected female journalist. KET announced it would be extending invitations to all the qualifying candidates. McConnell has so far refused their invitation, but I sincerely hope that he will do the right thing, reconsider and join me for a debate that includes more diverse perspectives.

From the start, it has been important to me to run an inclusive campaign that is in line with my values and makes every Kentuckian feel like they have a place at the table. When working with media organizations and Mitch McConnell’s campaign to set up the debates in this race, I felt it was important to include moderators that reflected our electorate. Determining who will be asking the questions to ensure voters know where my opponents and I stand on all the issues that are important to Kentuckians is not a small detail. Representation matters. 

Additionally, I felt it was important to give every candidate who qualifies a place on the debate stage. It is undemocratic to allow one candidate to dictate who gets to participate, as McConnell has done. 

However, McConnell will not concede to debating with a female moderator or to including libertarian candidate Brad Barron, who by standard measures qualifies to participate. Still, Kentuckians deserve a debate in this critical race, so they can make a more informed decision when casting their ballots, and that outweighs my hope that we could hold a more open, inclusive forum. For that reason, I will accept the invitation to participate in the Oct. 12 Gray TV debate.

I am calling on Mitch McConnell to participate in the KET debate as well. There is no reason why he should not agree to a debate moderated by a woman, and Kentuckians deserve to have every opportunity to see all of the candidates debate before the election.