From viral video to victory in Kentucky
Amy McGrath channeled several powerful forces in Democratic politics to seize the party’s nomination for Congress in Kentucky’s Sixth District, leaning hard into her profile as a military veteran, a political newcomer and a woman. She toppled a popular local official in the primary, and Republicans expect her to give Representative Andy Barr, a three-term incumbent, an aggressive challenge in the fall.
Ms. McGrath’s candidacy might never have taken flight if not for the powerful biographical video that launched her campaign last summer. Highlighting her military background with cinematic flair, the video helped Ms. McGrath raise more than $1 million and earned her extensive coverage in the national news media. Her primary opponent, Jim Gray — the mayor of Lexington, who had the support of national Democrats — failed to match her raw momentum.
Ms. McGrath’s success underscores the potency of biography in political campaigns, and the way the internet has freed candidates to go around traditional party bosses. And other Democrats are attempting the same approach, most notably Randy Bryce, an ironworker whose splashy announcement video helped him raise millions to run for the House seat Paul D. Ryan, the speaker of the House, is vacating.
Mike Pence flops in Texas
The vice president’s political clout was tested on Tuesday night in Texas, where he backed Bunni Pounds, a conservative activist, in a Republican primary for the Dallas-area House seat that Representative Jeb Hensarling is vacating. Mr. Pence stepped in at Mr. Hensarling’s request, endorsing Ms. Pounds in a tweet after President Trump declined to get involved in a low-profile nomination contest.
But despite the unusual intervention of the nation’s second-highest officeholder, Ms. Pounds was defeated on Tuesday night, losing the Republican nomination to Lance Gooden, a former member of the State Legislature. Ms. Pounds boasted repeatedly of Mr. Pence’s support, and it was not enough.
Mr. Pence was not the only high-profile conservative rebuffed in the race: Senator Ted Cruz also supported Ms. Pounds, and the Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, ran ads to help her. Only Mr. Pence, however, charged into the race against the cautious instincts of the president’s political advisers and saw his endorsement fall flat.
• Sign up to get the latest news and analysis on the midterm elections from the First Draft newsletter.