Hard fight in Kentucky Democratic primaries illuminates candidate promise to dethrone Mitch McConnell

While votes are being counted in Kentucky, Rep. Charles Booker says his movement of essential workers already won. But the ultimate check mate is unseating Republican Rep. McConnell.

On Tuesday night, U.S. Senator candidate Charles Booker and his team filed a last-minute injunction to reopen the one polling station in Jefferson County. The order forced the polling station to allow voters who were shut out of the station, to cast a ballot.

All day, voters waited in long lines just to park their cars at the packed polling place. Polls closed at 6 p.m., but limited stations resulted in a voting crisis. Before the elections, Kentucky changed the number of voting locations as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this decision, they significantly decreased polling places.

In Jefferson County, the area with the highest Black voters and 600,000 registered voters only had one polling place. With 95 percent of polling places closed in Kentucky prior to primaries, it magnified the contentious race between Booker, a state House member, and Amy McGrath, a pro-Trump running on the Democratic ticket.

Now with 54 percent of the election results in, McGrath, a former Marines fighter pilot, leads with 44.7% of the vote, while Booker has 36.5%. In Kentucky, candidates must win by 50% or face their opponent in a run off.

“The results are coming in, and we are fired up. It may take a couple days for the final vote, but we are ready to bring this home. Stay tuned. I am so damn proud of US,” tweeted Booker who plans to unseat longtime GOP Senator Mitch McConnell.

Two fights, two victories needed

In the past week, Booker, like many progressive candidates, have been on two frontlines—campaigning and campaigning for Black lives. Booker curtailed his political campaign to join protests  where he reported to be tear gassed twice. More specifically to Kentucky, a number of rallies have been dedicated to the Louisville Metro Police Department killing of 26-year-old EMT professional, Breonna Taylor when serving a no-knock warrant in the early morning of March 13, 2020. 

To date McGrath has not participated in any protests, though she cited on a clip during Roland Martin Unfiltered that she was spending her weekends during the protests “with family.”

On the other hand, Booker has paired with the local racial justice movement and a number of organizations across the racial and economic spectrum of his state, to oust his biggest contender, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R). Booker says McConnell’s leadership has “ignored . . . Black, Brown, and White Kentuckians, from the hood to the holler,” for decades. Serving since 1985, McConnell has been under scrutiny for not taking enough action in the death of Taylor too. Since Juneteenth, protesters have been demonstrating in wee hours of the morning to simulate the raid police carried out on Taylor and her intimate partner, Kenneth Walker.

Due to last minute voting and mail-in ballots, results will come in days after the Tuesday election.

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