(PoliticalLookout.com)- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have a challenger who narrowly escaped her primary for his congressional seat come November.
Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, held off Charles Booker, a progressive who pushed her to the limit in Kentucky’s Democratic primary. The election results were back and forth, and final tallies weren’t known until about a week after the June 23 primary date due to a large number of absentee ballots.
Booker performed very well in areas around the cities of Louisville and Lexington, but his showing there wasn’t enough to overcome McGrath’s dominance in the rural areas of the state. McGrath’s final margin of victory was only 15,149 votes, when more than 544,000 total votes were cast in the race.
The primary isn’t without its controversy, though. Kentucky increased absentee ballots in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It took almost a week for officials to count all the votes. And in Lexington, roughly 6,000 of these ballots were discarded on technicalities such as detached security flaps and unsigned envelopes, according to Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins.
That situation is likely to be used by President Donald Trump and other Republicans as a reason why absentee ballots don’t work in major elections.
McGrath was once considered the runaway winner in this primary race. She’s a moderate, is backed by the Democratic Party and fundraises really well. But Booker, a Black progressive, made headway in recent months and took McGrath to the brink.
Now, McGrath will take on McConnell in November’s election to see who will head to Washington. McGrath is probably considered a longshot, at best, to topple McConnell, who has been in office since 1985 and is one of the most powerful members of Congress.
Despite holding a lot of ideological differences, McGrath is hoping to be able to convince Booker’s supporters to vote come November to give the congressional seat to Democrats. In a statement following the election, she said:
“There is far too much at stake. The differences that separate Democrats are nothing compared to the chasm that exists between us and the politics and actions of Mitch McConnell. He’s destroyed our institutions for far too long.”
For his part, Booker called on all Democrats to rally and dedicate themselves “to the work of beating Mitch, so … we can get him out of the way.”
In a statement, he said:
“We’ve proven Kentuckians are hungry for a new kind of leadership, one that puts working people and their struggles before corporate special interests and the corrupt politicians who serve them. We’ve proven you don’t have to pretend to be a Republican to run as a Democrat in Kentucky, and that people want big, bold solutions to the enormous crises our state is facing.”
But despite these rallying cries, McGrath barely winning her primary may be an even bigger sign that she’ll be in trouble come November. McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman, Kate Cooksey, said McGrath is a “tool” for the Democratic establishment on a national level, saying she’s out of step with Kentuckians since she supports abortion rights and “government-run health care.”