Over the course of a few weeks, the Democratic Senate primaries in Kentucky went from an inevitable conclusion to a very competitive one.
The main contest between Democrats Amy McGrath and State Senator Charles Booker, both competing to compete against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the fall, is arguably the most important race in Kentucky this summer.
McGrath is the moderate veteran who has become a fundraising giant, despite narrowly losing a career at the Kentucky House in 2018. Booker, meanwhile, is the youngest black state legislator in Kentucky. He is unapologetically progressive and has become a presence on the front lines of protests against police brutality in his hometown of Louisville. While Booker was once seen as a long-shot competitor for McGrath, his challenge has grown more serious in recent weeks.
“The primaries are good to have important conversations, but we are not running to have important conversations, we are running to win,” Booker told Vox in a recent interview.
While the Senate race will be the most watched race Tuesday night, there are other primaries taking place in congressional districts across the state. Republicans are vying to be the nominees to try to defeat former Rep. John Yarmuth (D), the only Democratic member of the Kentucky Congressional delegation and the powerful chairman of the House Budget Committee. Democrats and Republicans are both vying to challenge embattled Rep. Thomas Massie (R), an outspoken member of the Liberty House House, and there are also primaries in both parties for the 6th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Andy Barr (R) .
Although the state has Democratic roots in its rural areas, it is a fairly solid Republican and voted for Trump by 30 points in 2016. Democrats see some hope in Governor Andy Beshear’s (D) 2019 victory over Matt Bevin, who tried to back down. Medicaid expanded into Kentucky and used aggressive rhetoric against Kentucky teachers on strike for better wages. Any plausible path for a Democratic Senate nominee would be a massive turnout for Democrats in the blue cities of Kentucky and the purple suburbs, along with a lower turnout for McConnell in the redder rural areas of Kentucky. But the odds of Democrats who overthrow McConnell on their territory are slim.
Kentucky polls are scheduled to close at 6 p.m. ET. Soon after, Vox will have live results provided by Decision table. Here’s what you need to know about each of the state’s races.
Race of the Senate of the EE. USA From Kentucky
Who is the Republican? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in office since 1985. McConnell is currently the most powerful person in the United States Senate and one of the most powerful in the country.
Who are the Democrats? Retired Navy fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost the Sixth Congressional District in 2018, is the election of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Her closest challenger is Progressive State Senator Charles Booker. Farmer and veteran Mike Broihier is also in the race, but he hasn’t gained as much attention as Booker.
What are the odds? Cook Political Report calls this race a likely Republican.
What is the state of the game? Until a few weeks ago, it seemed like McGrath was the runaway favorite in a sleepy elementary career. The retired fighter pilot fit the mold of the DSCC-backed pragmatic halfway candidates and was clearly in general election mode, hitting McConnell with ads. But Booker is also seeing a last-minute surge, fueled by protests against police brutality after Louisville police killed EMT Breonna Taylor and restaurant owner David McAtee. McGrath is the favorite, but her path suddenly seems less safe.
Whether McGrath or Booker are victorious, they will face McConnell, incredibly powerful and well funded. McConnell has become a sack man for Democrats, who despise him for measures such as denying the Obama Supreme Court a Merrick Garland hearing or delaying the vast majority of Senate House bills to prioritize filling the federal judiciary with conservative judges, ensuring that courts likely favor conservative cases for a generation. Back home in Kentucky, McConnell has worked very hard to maintain an image he is delivering for his home state. He has also been closely linked with Trump, who won Kentucky by 30 points in 2016. Beating McConnell will require a lot of money, which McGrath is attracting because of the bucket loads. But even then, it is far from a safe bet.
Kentucky Third District of Congress
Who is the Democrat? Chairman of the House Budget Committee John Yarmuth, in office since 2007.
Who are the Republicans? Businessman Waymen Eddings, real estate agent Rhonda Palazzo, and former union representative Mike Craven.
What are the odds? Cook Political Report rates this district as a Solid Democrat.
What is the state of the game? Yarmuth has for years been the only member of the Kentucky Democratic House. It represents a district that is fairly safe blue due to the influence of the state’s largest city, Louisville. A longtime member of Congress, Yarmuth is now the chairman of the House Budget Committee, an influential position. Yarmuth is running unopposed in his primary, and despite all three Republicans vying to challenge him, he is expected to keep his grip on the seat.
Kentucky Fourth District of Congress
Who are the Republicans? Current incumbent Thomas Massie faces a serious primary challenge from attorney Todd McMurtry. Massie could be in electoral trouble this year; President Donald Trump asked to be expelled from the Republican Party a few months ago.
Who are the Democrats? Nurse Alexandra Owensby and FedEx worker Shannon Fabert.
What are the odds? Cook Political Report rates this district as a strong Republican.
What is the state of the game? Massie has been a perennial thorn on the side of Democrats and Republicans for years. A libertarian-minded member of Congress, he often votes against big bills and government spending. But Massie may have crossed the line with Trump this year when she tried to delay a $ 2.2 billion coronavirus aid package by requesting a recorded vote, forcing lawmakers to return to Hill amid a pandemic in the process. So Trump called him a “great third-class standard bearer” and “a disaster for the United States.”
Now Massie faces a challenge from McMurtry, who made headlines when he represented Covington’s Catholic high school student Nicholas Sandmann after Sandmann’s widely publicized encounter with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial. The Massie-McMurtry race has featured many spikes between the two, as well as the two men trying to tie up with Trump.
Kentucky Sixth Congressional District
Who are the Republicans? Incumbent Andy Barr is being challenged by perennial candidate Geoff Young and retired businessman Chuck Eddy.
Who are the Democrats? Marine Corps veteran Josh Hicks and businessman Daniel Kemph.
What are the odds? Cook Political Report calls this race a likely Republican.
What is the state of the game? Democrats invested heavily in the Sixth Congressional District in 2018, when McGrath challenged Barr and was three points away from winning. The district is viewed as potentially accessible because it contains the blue city of Lexington and its surrounding suburbs, and has historically gone from red to blue in the past. But it has been difficult to change in recent years.
Barr is likely to win his Republican primaries. Barr suffered a personal tragedy on June 16 in the sudden death of his wife Carol due to a heart condition. On the Democratic side, Hicks, whose speech on the destruction of Confederate monuments went viral in 2017, will face Kemph. The campaign arm of the House Democrats, the Democratic Congress Campaign Committee, has not yet endorsed this race.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said Rep. Thomas Massie is part of the Caucus House Freedom. He is part of the Liberty Caucus Chamber.
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