McGrath wins primary to set up showdown with McConnell

Ruben Fields
June 30, 2020

Former Marine pilot Amy McGrath overcame a bumpier-than-expected Kentucky primary to win the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday, fending off progressive Charles Booker to set up a bruising, big-spending showdown with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McGrath's supporters contended her moderate stances were more in alignment with Kentucky's traditional electorate than Booker's more progressive views.

McGrath raised $41 million since entering the race through June 3, against roughly $800,000 for Booker, who saw a surge in the final weeks.

It was a narrow victory for McGrath.

But a late surge from McGrath locked up the win, regaining the lead with about 89-percent of precincts to report, and she'll move forward to November's election.

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Kentucky switched to widespread absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, and election officials needed days to count ballots.

Since last summer, McConnell and McGrath looked past their primaries to skirmish with each other, and now those attacks will intensify heading into the fall campaign. He gained momentum amid the protests that followed the deaths of George Floyd and of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Booker's hometown of Louisville. Mike Broihier, a farmer and former Marine colonel, was the third candidate in the race and earned the endorsement of the local chapter of Indivisible, a prominent progressive group. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Reps. "McGrath is just another tool of the Washington Democratic establishment who has no idea what matters most to Kentuckians".

"We also believe the national Democratic Party was too quick to offer its full support and fundraising apparatus to a candidate who has never held public office and stumbled out of the gate when announcing her candidacy", wrote the paper's editorial board in their editorial endorsing Booker. McConnell's campaign has said McGrath is too liberal for Kentucky, on issues from abortion to border security.

Despite her advantages, McGrath sweated out her victory against the hard-charging Booker. Both McGrath and Booker held early leads as in-person Election Day votes trickled in, with Booker leading in Louisville's Jefferson County by almost 65 points. The Democrat went on to argue that it was her opponent-Mitch McConnell-who was obstructing Trump's agenda, telling voters "you can't drain the swamp until you get rid of Mitch McConnell". Earlier on Tuesday, Booker captured both Jefferson and Fayette counties, which cover Louisville and Lexington, but his edge was not enough to counter McGrath's lead with absentee ballots and some of the more rural parts of the state.

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