Charles Booker Edges Into The Lead To Take On Mitch McConnell In Kentucky Senate Race

Voters casting ballots in Kentucky's Senate primary.
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Charles Booker moved into the lead in Kentucky’s Democratic Senate primary, where the winner will take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the party hopes to flip the Senate.

As WDRB reported, Booker had been trailing Amy McGrath for much of the early vote counting but moved into the lead with close to 80 percent of precincts reporting. Booker held an edge of close to 2,500 votes, thanks in large part to favorable margins among Louisville voters. He had earned a court victory on voting day, earning an injunction to keep polling places open as long lines of people waited to cast their ballots. He also took to social media throughout the day, encouraging voters to stay in line until they could vote.

As the report noted, Democrats in Jefferson County picked Booker by a roughly five-to-one margin, though that total does not yet include the absentee ballots mailed or dropped off at the county’s board of elections. NBC News rated the race as too close to call, and the results could take several more days to complete.

McGrath had earned much of the early attention in the race, with the 35-year-old Booker not jumping in until early this year. But while McGrath flexed some serious fundraising muscle and earned national attention, her opponent racked up a number of key state and national endorsements from the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

As Politico reported, a number of progressive groups also endorsed Booker, a first-term state representative. That included Indivisible, which planned to send 45,000 direct mail pieces and 25,000 text messages encouraging voters. The group also helped Booker’s campaign manage the process of voting under the state’s new guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This created controversy as it led to just one polling place in Louisville, which has a total population of 600,000.

“If we’re looking at a race that’s down to a couple dozen or a couple hundred votes, we think every vote will matter down the stretch,” said Lucy Solomon, political director for Indivisible. “We really think every little bit that everyone can do will have an impact on this election, and we’re seeing that up close.”

Booker appeared to surge in recent weeks, fueled in part by his participation and leadership amid statewide protests after the killings of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Vote counting continues in Kentucky, with state officials saying they saw a record turnout of more than 1 million voters, despite the voting restrictions.