Kentucky Senate primary race to decide who challenges Mitch McConnell too close to call

Kentucky primary race among Democratic candidates to decide who will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November is too close, NBC News projected.

Amy McGrath, a retired Navy Lieutenant Colonel, had a slight lead in a more difficult than expected challenge from State Representative Charles Booker. With less than 10 percent of the vote at 11:30 p.m. ET, McGrath led Booker by just over 2,000 votes. Those votes include only those cast at the polls on Tuesday; none of the mail ballots have been counted yet.

Democratic enthusiasm for McGrath was high when he entered the race last year, and raised $ 2.5 million in his first 24 hours. The enthusiasm quickly cooled when he said in an interview with The Courier-Journal of Louisville that he “probably would have voted” to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is widely hated by Democrats. He later tweeted that “after further reflection and a better understanding of his record, he would have voted no.”

McGrath continued her fundraising prowess, and as of June 3 had raised more than $ 41 million, according to the most recent fundraising submissions. He had to use that ad money to fight a belated rise in Booker, which supports “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal and universal basic income, and campaigned against inequality and racial injustice.

Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker, a Democratic candidate for the Senate, greets John Wright of Louisville during a campaign stop in Louisville on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.Bryan Woolston / Reuters

Booker, who entered the race in January alone, had a late push to beat the better-funded McGrath, and had raised $ 793,000 at the time.

Booker joined protests over the police murder of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville woman who was shot dead in her apartment on March 13 by police executing a “do not touch” order, and obtained endorsements from Senator Bernie. Sanders, I-Vt., And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y.

Booker also questioned McGrath’s failure to protest, prompting her to issue an ad denouncing the death of George Floyd. Booker noted that he did not mention Taylor in the ad.

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McGrath was also endorsed by several established Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “I think she will give McConnell a run for his money,” Schumer said last week.

In New York, former Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel was in a tough fight for reelection as he tried to fend off an aggressive primary challenge by Jamaal Bowman, a progressive candidate running for his first political campaign.

Jamaal Bowman speaks to reporters after voting at Yonkers Middle School / High School in Yonkers, New York on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.John Minchillo / AP

Bowman had a huge initial lead, according to NBC News projections, but like in Kentucky, officials have not begun counting mail ballots.

Bowman’s fight with Engel in New York’s 16th district is being compared to the surprising surprise of Ocasio-Cortez by former Rep. Joe Crowley in District 14 in 2018.

Bowman’s offer was aided by Engel, who found himself defensive after he was caught by a hot microphone this month pleading to speak at a news event involving riots and vandalism in his district after Floyd’s death.

“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t mind,” Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was heard to tell Bronx County President Ruben Diaz Jr., Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bowman for his fellow congressman this month.

Engel, who has represented the 16th since 1989, was backed by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Schumer, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.