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McGrath takes slight lead over Booker in Kentucky Senate Democratic primary

In Kentucky’s Senate Democratic primary, Ret. Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath opened up a slight lead over progressive Charles Booker on Tuesday.
Continue reading on NBC News

In Kentucky’s Senate Democratic primary, Ret. Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath opened up a slight lead over progressive Charles Booker on Tuesday with over 80 percent of the vote counted to determine who takes on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.

McGrath led Booker 44.9 percent to 43.4 percent, or by a margin of about 7,200 votes, with 84 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, according to NBC News.

The outcome is looking good for McGrath because she’s been running well with absentee votes and Booker didn’t do as well as he needed in Jefferson County, home to Louisville.

The race, which has changed leaders multiple times since in-person polls closed last Tuesday night, remains too close to call, NBC News projects. It has remained tight for a week due to the fact that it has taken days for hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots to be counted.

The Kentucky secretary of state said that 161,238 people voted in-person last Tuesday. By last Tuesday morning, 530,196 of the 867,842 ballots sent out before the election had already been returned. Any mail-in ballot postmarked by Tuesday will be counted, the Kentucky secretary of state’s office said.

Booker’s candidacy has received the support of progressive lawmakers and groups, while McGrath, is backed by several establishment Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Booker, who supports “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal and universal basic income and campaigned against inequality and racial injustice, has repeatedly tweeted hopeful messages about the race in recent days.

“Let’s shock the world,” Booker tweeted earlier Tuesday morning before NBC News called the race.

McGrath, who saw an early surge of enthusiasm for her candidacy after she jumped into the race last year, had initially been a heavy favorite in the race.

As of June 3, she had raised over $41 million, according to the most recent filings. But she had to dip into that money for ads to fight off a late surge from Booker, who entered the race only in January.

Booker joined protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville woman who was shot dead in her apartment on March 13 by police executing a “no-knock” warrant, and netted endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., among others.

He also made an issue of McGrath’s failure to join the protests against Taylor’s death — leading her to air an ad decrying the death of George Floyd. Booker noted that she didn’t mention Taylor in the ad.

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