Democrat Amy McGrath won Kentucky’s senate primary a week after the election began, edging out state Rep. Charles Booker as more absentee ballots were accounted for Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
McGrath is now set to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. Results were initially delayed due to the large number of people voting with mail-in ballots because of to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in both Jefferson and Fayette County waiting until Tuesday to announce their results.
Amy McGrath just won her unexpectedly close Kentucky Senate primary against progressive Charles Booker. https://t.co/CXRzn7ANW4
— Vox (@voxdotcom) June 30, 2020
The June 23 election was the latest to unfold amid the pandemic as some who voted in person faced shuttered polling places and long lines. Jefferson County, the state’s largest, had one polling place for approximately 600,000 people.
Despite Kentucky’s rightward bend, the Democratic Senate primary race had been in the national spotlight since McGrath announced her candidacy in July 2019. Since her campaign’s launch, she had raised more $40 million for her campaign, more than both her Democratic rivals and McConnell combined, according to the Courier Journal.
Her campaign raised so much money that the NRSC has reserved nearly $11 million for pro-McConnell ads, despite his 16-point win in 2014 and President Donald Trump’s 30-point victory in Kentucky in 2016.
McGrath was considered the heavy favorite in the race until only a few weeks ago. In the days building up to the primary election, Booker benefitted from some momentum, partially fueled by nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and high-profile endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massechussetts, as well as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
At a primary debate in early June, Booker contrasted himself with McGrath, describing how he had been marching with protesters almost daily while McGrath was at home with her family. The topic served as the foundation for a recent ad which attempted to paint McGrath as out of touch with Democrats nationwide.
Booker had also adopted more progressive stances than McGrath, including Medicare-for-all and the defunding of police.
While McGrath’s win Tuesday is a boon to moderate Democrats and the DSCC, which had endorsed her candidacy, has a lot of ground to make up against McConnell, who is viewed as a heavy favorite to win his seventh term in November.
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