Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones, had harsh criticisms Thursday for the roll-out of former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath’s campaign to challenge U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The popular sports radio host, who started his time on stage at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce business summit by saying he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll launch his own Senate bid, said he thought it was fair to say McGrath has experienced some “hiccups” early in her campaign.
“I think she has let the national Democratic Party and the consultants consult her to death. They have literally taken the personality out of her,” Jones said. “I would say to Amy McGrath, be Amy McGrath. Because at the end of the day if you’re Amy McGrath and you lose, then you can look in the mirror and say look I did it. If you’re this person they created… you’re gonna lose and you’re gonna feel bad.”
Jones did compliment McGrath on how much money she’s raised — $3.5 million in two days — but said that despite the money, her “authenticity problems” could dog her through the campaign.
Unlimited Digital Access: Only $0.99 For Your First Month
The comments cut to the core of the brand McGrath built in her 2018 campaign as a straight-shooting outsider willing to rise above her political party at a time when Jones is being courted by Kentuckians to offer a primary challenge to McGrath because of her early stumbles.
Mark Nickolas, McGrath’s campaign manager, dismissed Jones’ criticism of McGrath and indicated he doesn’t think Jones will get in the race.
“There are people like Amy who have the courage to get into the arena and take on the establishment and make their case directly to the voters, and then there are people who like to hear themselves talk,” Nickolas said.
McGrath drew criticism as soon as she had completed her first interview as a candidate, when she said McConnell was standing in the way of some of the policies of President Donald Trump. Jones criticized McGrath for the comment Thursday, saying it didn’t match with her earlier comments comparing the election of President Trump to September 11 terrorist attacks (McGrath has walked back the statement, from her 2018 campaign, saying it was about ugly partisan politics).
“I think the number one, most important thing for a candidate in office, is that people think you are authentic and you are real,” Jones said. “…And I think the first 48 hours I think it’s fair to say when you watch Amy McGrath’s answers, it doesn’t seem like the same person who ran for congress. Some of them are different.”
Jones said Thursday that he thinks he has the ability to beat Mitch McConnell, calling him a “huge detriment to democracy in America,” but that he would have to give up the life he currently enjoys — complete with several business ventures, a radio show and a television show — for a grueling campaign.