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McGarvey, Scott debate ahead of Louisville-area Congressional primary

Attica Scott Morgan McGarvey speaking in the state legislature.
Legislative Research Commission
Attica Scott Morgan McGarvey speaking in the state legislature.

With only a few days before Kentucky’s primary elections, Democratic candidates for Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional district made their pitches on Wednesday during the only public forum in the race. 

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey and state Rep. Attica Scott are vying for the seat that will be vacated by the retirement of longtime Congressman John Yarmuth. Questions from the audience ranged from how the candidates would best represent the state in Washington, and where they stood on public safety and police reform.

Scott and McGarvey’s positions on most issues don’t differ widely, but both candidates were asked to explain what being a progressive candidate meant to each of them.

McGarvey said his position on issues such as abortion rights, marriage equality and renewable energy, as well as his track record of passing 18 bills through the Republican-led legislature, show he’s got the experience for the job.

Scott said being progressive meant pushing for representation of marginalized communities and everyday people in Congress.

“I was grateful I was able to soften the ground for black women and the one Indian woman we have serving in Frankfort,” she said. McGarvey and Scott both agreed on bringing more young people of color to shape the future of the party.

Elected in 2016, Scott was the first Black woman to serve in the statehouse in nearly 20 years.

The candidates had different views on how to build coalitions with Republicans in the statehouse and in Congress.

“We need to make sure we send a representative in Washington who has shown the ability to stand up for our values…but do it while building coalitions that can get things done,” McGarvey said.

Scott said she was open to forging coalitions, but was clear that she would even disagree with her own party’s actions in certain cases. Invoking the draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade, she said “politicos” were playing games while “lives are on the line” for the vast majority of people.

During the forum, McGarvey called for banning for-profit prisons, said police need sensitivity training and proposed hiring more social workers to handle crisis interventions. Scott has called for defunding the police and on Wednesday said public funds should be prioritized for  basic resources like food, shelter and education over policing.

The primary election is May 17, though voters can cast ballots early in person on Thursday, Friday and Saturday ahead of time. Democrats outnumber Republicans by about two-to-one in the district, so whoever wins the primary will have a significant advantage in the November election.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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