In Kentucky House Race, a Battle of Ideology vs. Résumé

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“We both served our country,” Mr. Barr said. “I’ve served in a position where ideas matter. My opponent has served her country in the military, where execution matters.”

At the distillery tour, Mr. Barr said Ms. McGrath would work to reverse the tax cuts.

“Anybody who says they want to repeal the tax cuts is against the bourbon industry,” Mr. Barr said, adding, “We’re all in on bourbon.”

But the trade war may be having a more direct effect.

“We’ve heard some horror stories on the tariffs,” said Eric Gregory, the president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, who met with Mr. Barr at Castle & Key, referring to distillers already suffering. “They increased their production or expanded, and now they are looking for places to send their whiskey because the overseas market may not be there for them any more.”

The Veterans Affairs event was filled with mostly older former service members, many wearing hats and jackets of bright Marine red. Mr. Barr had many supporters there. “She was out of the Marine Corps for a year, and all of a sudden she decided to run for office,” said Errol Heindel, the state commander of the Marine Corps League of Kentucky. “Andy has done a hell of a job.”

Another man, Todd Matonich, wearing a Rolling Thunder leather vest adorned with patches, also praised the incumbent: “We love him.”

But Mike Leaverton, who served in the Marines from 1964 to 1978 and considers Mr. Barr a friend, was all in for Ms. McGrath.

“I am so impressed with her accomplishments, everything she did in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Even in high school soccer, she was a star. Everything she does goes 110 percent.”

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