Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot recruited by national Democrats to mount a long-shot bid to against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has prevailed in her party’s Senate primary in Kentucky.
McGrath held off a late surge from Charles Booker, a state legislator who tapped into the energy of the movement for racial justice and won endorsements from several high-profile liberals on the national stage.
The race had remained too close to call on Election Day last week as many absentee ballots had yet to be counted. Booker held a narrow advantage over McGrath in a large field based on early and in-person totals released a week ago.
But McGrath made up ground as more votes were tallied, according to updated results.
Booker issued as a statement last week saying he was “fired up by what we’re already seeing in the early returns.”
“When we started this thing, we were down 50 points, up against a candidate with millions of dollars in the bank and all of Washington behind her,” he said.
McGrath counseled her supporters on election night to “recharge” for the fall contest against McConnell.
“The mission to defeat Mitch McConnell and defend our democracy goes on,” she said.
McGrath drew the backing of Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), which helped bolster her fundraising. Booker drew support from some leading liberal luminaries, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
McConnell, who is seeking a seventh term, easily prevailed in the Republican primary last week.
Starting with an announcement video nearly a year ago, McGrath has sought to cast McConnell as out of touch with his Kentucky constituents and blamed him for dysfunction in Washington.
Since then, McConnell’s campaign has treated the well-funded McGrath as the likely Democratic nominee, seeking to cast her as too liberal for Kentucky.
Moments after news organizations called the race for McGrath on Tuesday, McConnell spokeswoman Kate Cooksey issued a statement saying McGrath “does not represent Kentucky values.”
“Extreme Amy McGrath is lucky to have gotten out of the primary with a victory, but her reputation sustained significant damage all across Kentucky,” Cooksey said. “McGrath is just another tool of the Washington Democratic establishment who has no idea what matters most to Kentuckians.”
During the campaign, McConnell has touted his influence in Washington. In an ad this spring, he highlighted his role in the passage of a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill responding to the coronavirus pandemic. McConnell was shown striding through the Capitol and standing behind President Trump as he signed the measure into law.
Since signing an executive action on police changes on June 16 in the Rose Garden, President Trump has shifted almost exclusively to “law-and-order” rhetoric. His administration touched off a politically charged battle with its latest maneuver to dismantle Obamacare.
Barring a landslide, we may not have a result in the presidential election on Nov. 3. See what elections are coming up and which have moved.
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