Amy McGrath has hung onto a razor-thin margin to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, in a race that saw the presumptive runaway favorite raise $40 million, and win by less than 2 percent.
A late surge by State Rep. Charles Booker after his participation in protests of the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville propelled him to a near tie with McGrath, the national party’s handpicked candidate. At the end of the last campaign reporting period, McGrath had spent more than $21 million — 42 times the amount spent by the Booker campaign.
Statewide news outlets called the race for McGrath shortly after noon on Tuesday, with more than 90 percent of the vote in.
McGrath won the primary by a 2.7 percent margin out of more than a half a million votes cast.
The unofficial vote count on the Kentucky State Board of Elections page showed McGrath with 247,037 votes to Booker’s 231,888.
McGrath won handily in Letcher County, but Booker put up a respectable showing, finishing with 673 votes here to McGrath’s 951. The third- and fourth-highest vote-getters were Mike Broihier with 70 votes and Andrew J. Maynard with 63. No other candidate in the race reached 50 votes here.
In the presidential primary, Joe Biden finished first in the state in the 13-way race with 68 percent of the vote.
Biden received 365,283 votes in the primary. Bernie Sanders was the second highest vote-getter with 65,055. Sanders dropped out of the race long ago and endorsed Biden.
Locally, Biden received 1,018 votes, of a total 1,927 cast. Uncommitted delegates, who can vote for whomever they please at the party convention, received 407 votes here. Bernie Sanders received 252 votes here. Perhaps the biggest surprise on the Republican side was the paucity of votes cast for incumbents.
While no incumbent Democrats were on the ballot, three of four Republicans on the ballot already hold office. President Donald J. Trump, who was unopposed in the primary, received 1,391 votes here but 103 voters cast ballots for uncommitted delegates. Statewide, 371,718 voters cast their ballots for Trump, while 57,283 voted for uncommitted delegates.
Sen. Mitch McConnell received 1,202 votes in Letcher County, or 82 percent in a race which saw 1,459 votes cast. C. Wesley Morgan received 123. None of the other six candidates received 50 votes. Statewide, McConnell received 83 percent with 342,656 votes.
District 5 U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers garnered 1,342 votes here to Gerardo Serrano’s 143, or 90 percent of the vote. District-wide, Rogers received 76,575 votes, or 91 percent.
The big winner of the day might be democracy. In a year when most Kentucky counties had only one polling place open on Election Day because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, made a deal to allow mail-in paper ballots and early in-person voting. In the end, 1,003,678 Kentucky voters took advantage of the easier balloting and voted in the race, eclipsing the 669,678 votes cast in the 2016 presidential primary. The total this year appears to be a record, surpassing every presidential primary since at least 1984, including the 2008 primary that saw a turnout of 922,456.