McConnell's Democratic rival McGrath endorses Biden for 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amy McGrath, a former Marine combat aviator who has raised more than $16 million in her effort to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell in November’s election, said Friday that she was endorsing Joe Biden for president.

The former vice president campaigned in Kentucky for McGrath in her unsuccessful 2018 race for a U.S. House seat. Now she is trying to win the Democratic Senate nomination and unseat McConnell, one of the most powerful men in Washington.

McGrath said Biden was “respected and beloved by Democrats and Republicans alike” and had the ability to bring the country back together.

“Honor and integrity are at the heart of everything Marines do,” McGrath said in a statement. ”It’s why I believe so strongly that Joe Biden is the president who can return honor and integrity to the Oval Office."

McGrath joins a growing group of centrist-leaning House members who are backing the former vice president as he tries to consolidate enough votes in the moderate wing of his party to secure the Democratic nomination. Among those is Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, who was a classmate of McGrath’s at the Naval Academy.

Biden's campaign welcomed the endorsement from McGrath.

Related: Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot

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Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot
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Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot
Amy McGrath, former U.S. Marine and Democratic congressional candidate for Kentucky, speaks during the 2018 MAKERS Conference in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The event gathers industry leading females for roundtable discussions to help inspire the women of tomorrow. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic Congressional candidate Amy McGrath speaks with voters during a campaign stop in Winchester, Kentucky, U.S., February 9, 2018. Picture taken February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
Amy McGrath, former U.S. Marine and Democratic congressional candidate for Kentucky, speaks during the 2018 MAKERS Conference in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The event gathers industry leading females for roundtable discussions to help inspire the women of tomorrow. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Cafe workers talk with Democratic Congressional candidate Amy McGrath, left, during a campaign stop in Campton, Kentucky, U.S., January 19, 2018. Picture taken January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
Patricia Schroeder, former U.S. Representative from Colorado, left, and Amy McGrath, former U.S. Marine and Democratic congressional candidate from Kentucky, laugh during the 2018 MAKERS Conference in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The event gathers industry leading females for roundtable discussions to help inspire the women of tomorrow. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Gloria Steinem and Former U.S. Marine & Congressional Candidate in Kentucky Amy McGrath attend The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for MAKERS)
Amy McGrath, former U.S. Marine and Democratic congressional candidate for Kentucky, listens during the 2018 MAKERS Conference in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The event gathers industry leading females for roundtable discussions to help inspire the women of tomorrow. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Chief Executive Officer, Oath, Tim Armstrong and former U.S. Marine and congressional candidate in Kentucky Amy McGrath speak onstage during The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for MAKERS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Former U.S. Marine & Congressional Candidate in Kentucky Amy McGrath attends The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for MAKERS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Chief Marketing Officer, Oath, Allie Kline, Former U.S. Marine & Congressional Candidate in Kentucky Amy McGrath and Founder and Executive Producer, MAKERS, Dyllan McGee attend The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for MAKERS)
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"We are honored to welcome Amy to Team Joe in the fight for the soul of our nation and look forward to taking down Mitch McConnell and taking back the Senate,” said Greg Schultz, Biden's campaign manager.

Biden has said he considered McConnell, with whom he served for decades in the Senate, a friend he could work with as president. The remark drew criticism from some of his Democratic rivals, who noted McConnell's obstruction of President Barack Obama's agenda.

President Donald Trump is popular in the state, and McConnell is one of the officials most key to the president's success. The Senate majority leader is known for his powerful political organization in the state and is considered a solid favorite.

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