A week after Election Day, the results of Kentucky’s Democratic primary are in, and Amy McGrath has won.
A former fighter pilot who has raised more than $40 million, McGrath will now face Mitch McConnell, who also won his primary, in November.
Results for the race took seven days to come in thanks to expanded absentee voting. Mail-in ballots accounted for roughly three quarters of the more than 1 million votes cast in the primary. While state representative Charles Booker held a slight lead among in-person voters, McGrath made up ground when all the mail-in votes were counted. But her lead was still narrow. When the AP called the race, 89 percent of the vote was in and McGrath had a nearly 9,500-vote lead.
Few would have been surprised by this result several months ago, when McGrath was sitting on tens of millions of dollars and the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. According to Booker’s own internal polling, he had 13 percent support in May. But the few weeks before the election saw his poll numbers, fundraising, and chances skyrocket. A progressive, 35-year-old Black legislator from Louisville, Booker emerged as a leader in protests against the killings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee. A slew of high-profile endorsements and a flood of donations followed.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to defeat McGrath, who spent almost $3.5 million on TV ads in the week leading up to Election Day. A 2018 congressional candidate, McGrath stumbled out of the gate after launching her U.S. Senate run. After saying she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, she took it back hours later. She also drew criticism for saying McConnell hadn’t done enough to help Trump accomplish some of his goals, including lowering prescription-drug prices and draining “the swamp.” Those remarks led the Courier-Journal to call her a “pro-Trump” Democrat, a label that she has spent months trying to beat back. Now that she’s moved on to the general election against McConnell in a state Trump won by 30 percent, though, maybe she’ll change her mind about that, too.