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McConnell challenger Amy McGrath raises $2.5 million in 24 hours

Amy McGrath to run for Mitch McConnell's Senate seat

Amy McGrath, the Democratic candidate challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, raised a whopping $2.5 million within the first 24 hours after formally announcing her 2020 run on Tuesday, according to the campaign. The haul breaks multiple records, including the most money ever raised in a single day by a Senate campaign, McGrath's camp said. It's also more than multiple presidential candidates raised in the first day of their campaigns. 

"The record-breaking fundraising numbers show the unprecedented level of enthusiasm for Amy," said Mark Nickolas, McGrath's campaign manager. 

Nickolas added, "In just 24 hours, working people in Kentucky and across the country came together to support Amy McGrath's campaign against Sen. McConnell and his corrosive D.C. swamp politics."

Election 2020 Kentucky Senate McGrath
In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Amy McGrath speaks to supporters in Richmond, Kentucky. Bryan Woolston / AP

Several of the 2020 candidates, including Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Seth Moulton, all sent out supporter emails and appeals on social media to help McGrath with fundraising shortly after her announcement. 

Comparatively, McConnell's team has so far raised $11.2M this cycle, including over $3 million in the second quarter with about $7.9 million on hand, according to the campaign. 

The McConnell team expects whoever opposes them to break just as many fundraising records as Alison Lundergan Grimes and has privately prepared itself for an eight figure first week from any challenger. 

Here's a closer look at McGrath's fundraising haul:

  • All money came in from online donations
  • 69,188 individual contributions
  • Average donation size of $36 
  • Over $1 million came in just the first five and a half hours of the campaign rollout

The retired Marine fighter pilot unveiled her campaign on Tuesday with a video in which she recalled writing a letter to her senator at age 13 about her dreams of becoming a pilot and the challenges women faced of being denied a shot of joining the U.S. military.  

"He never wrote back," McGrath said. "I've often wondered how many other people did Mitch McConnell never take the time to write back or even think about."

McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden referred to McGrath as an "extreme liberal who is far out of touch with Kentuckians."

"Comparing President Trump's election to 9/11, endorsing a government takeover of healthcare, and calling the wall 'stupid' is a heckuva platform that we will be delighted to discuss over the next sixteen months," Golden said in a statement to CBS News. 

McConnell, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon, said he "looks forward" to the 2020 race, which he predicted would be "spirited."

"Unlike a lot of my members, I won't name any names, I actually enjoy campaigning," said McConnell. "I look forward to the contest and laying out our differences to the people of Kentucky."

His campaign later put out a statement calling McGrath "fundamentally unelectable."

Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed reporting.