A Quick Kentucky Primary Primer

Mitch McConnell is one of the most daunting figures in the Senate. He’s held his Kentucky seat for more than three decades and has become synonymous with Republican obstructionism and spinelessness. One could argue that no person has had a greater impact on American politics in the last decade than McConnell.

2020 might be Democrats’ best chance to get him out.

Aside from being incredibly powerful, McConnell is also one of the most reviled politicians in America. He’s been hated for years and his time may well be up in Washington. But before Democrats can beat him, they’ve got to vote in a hotly contested primary on June 23 that’s garnered national attention.

The Candidates

Amy McGrath

McGrath is a former Marine fighter pilot who narrowly lost a House race to Republican Andy Barr in 2018. Despite the loss, her promising results led to her anointment as the Democrats’ McConnell-stopper for the 2020 Senate race. She raised more than $3 million after her campaign announcement back in July 2019 and one of her early campaign videos went viral. She ran virtually unopposed for half a year until the entrance of …

Charles Booker

Booker is a Kentucky state rep who officially entered the Senate race in January. Despite his late start, he’s garnered a ton of support from local lawmakers and progressive politicians nationwide. He supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary and modeled his campaign after the Vermont senator, centering it around small-dollar donations for working-class Kentuckians.

The Policies

This is a pretty straightforward race between a moderate and a progressive. Booker has adopted popular progressive policies as part of his platform, including universal healthcare and universal basic income. McGrath, meanwhile, is staunchly moderate, supporting policies like the Affordable Care Act and less aggressive, more “realistic” approaches to issues like climate change.

The Skinny

It’s late in the game, but Booker has all the momentum. He’s received an incredible fundraising spike over the past two months and has received several key endorsements, including from both Kentucky newspapers and half the Democrats in the Kentucky House of Reps. McGrath still holds the fundraising advantage from her massive head start, but her popularity has waned in recent weeks—in its endorsement of Booker, the Louisville Courier-Journal called her campaign “unimaginative” and “uninspiring.”

Can Either One of Them Beat Mitch McConnell?

Eh, probably not. McConnell will be extremely hard to beat. He’s ensconced in his seat and his results as Senate Majority Leader—however catastrophic for the country—play well with conservative Kentucky voters. Plus, Trump is still the most popular politician in the state and McConnell hasn’t been shy about rolling over and fully supporting the president. And he’s got enormous financial backers who will likely spend any amount of money to keep him in the Senate clogging up legislation and packing courts with conservative judges.

Until the ballots are cast and the final results are tallied, you never know.