Advertisement

Mid-terms: Historically Republican Kentucky one of tightest races for Congress

The bluegrass state of Kentucky, with its stables and fields lined with white picket fences, boasts one of the most peaceful landscapes imaginable. But this historically Republican state is home to one of the tightest races for Congress in the country.

Despite all expectations, the Republican incumbent, a sixth generation Kentuckian called Andy Barr, has found himself neck and neck with his Democratic challenger.

Amy McGrath is a tough-talking mother of three who spent 20 years flying fighter jets for the US marines. She tells me her country needs new leadership and that she can provide it as a veteran and as a woman.

“All Americans are fired up right now”, she smiles.

“But we are under-represented as women and I think that’s a part of it”.

Looking at the crowd surrounding her, it strikes me that at least three quarters are female. Some are pensioners, some have brought their children, but everyone I talk to is motivated by what they think of Donald Trump.

America’s mid-terms don’t change who is president, but they do offer the chance to deliver a powerful report card. And for these women, Trump is failing spectacularly.

Elizabeth Young, a social worker with young children, grew up a Republican. She tells me that her disgust at Donald Trump’s belligerent language, especially towards women, has changed that.

Elizabeth Young grew up Republican but is campaigning for the Democrat nominee. Credit: ITV News

“The things he has made it acceptable to say are not OK”, she says.

“I have young daughters and I worry for their future. I’ve decided to be on the right side of history and that’s why I’m knocking on doors for the Democrats”.

Election analysts believe the same white suburban women who swung the presidential elections for Trump could now deliver Congress to his opponents.

Kentucky is a traditionally Republican seat Credit: ITV News

Historically, women haven’t turned out in great numbers for the mid-terms but the Me Too movement and the Brett Kavanaugh hearing have galvanised some who might otherwise have stayed on the sidelines.

Tyrah West, a working mum from Lexington, is one of them.

“I have been to rallies and I’ve been active on social media” she tells me.

“I have actually put up yard signs. It's just what has been happening...I couldn’t stay silent”.

That desire for change isn’t limited to women and nor is it shared by all of them. There are women readying themselves to go door knocking at the local Republican headquarters too. Not despite of Donald Trump but because of him.

Retired teacher Penelope Stauffer thinks Trump has helped women into work. Credit: ITV News

Retired teacher Penelope Stauffer tells me “More women are in jobs and women’s pay cheques are bigger because of what the President has done. Look at how many women he has on his staff. For me, that tells its own story”.

Whatever happens to the Republicans and Democrats at the polls this week, women are likely to have a record breaking election.

The surge in female candidates, partially driven by the President’s attitude to women, could mean they are better represented in Congress and the Senate than ever before.