Shocking double-digit win gives Democrats reason for optimism in deep red Kentucky

Shocking double-digit win gives Democrats reason for optimism in deep red Kentucky
Amy McGrath image via campaign

Although Kentucky is a red state that President Donald Trump won by 30% in 2016, a political shocker came when, in 2019, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was voted out of office, and centrist Democrat Andy Beshear (now Kentucky’s governor) won the election. And now, another shocker has come in the form of Democrat Karen Berg winning a Kentucky State Senate seat that had been in GOP hands for 25 years.


Berg’s win in the special election was decisive. In Kentucky’s 26th Senate District —where Republican Sen. Ernie Harris announced his retirement — Berg defeated Republican Bill Ferko by 14%. Berg will remain in the seat until 2022, when she will have to seek reelection.

The Kentucky State Senate still has a strong GOP majority, but the victories of Beshear and now, Berg, are a hopeful sign for Democrats in the Bluegrass State — where Democrat Amy McGrath is hoping to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. The centrist McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, recently declared a narrow victory over the progressive Charles Booker in a Democratic senatorial primary. That primary turned out to be surprisingly close, and NPR reported that McGrath won by 3%.

Booker, who serves in the Kentucky House of Representatives, was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

McGrath knows that she will be fighting an uphill battle in the general election, given how Republican Kentucky has been and the fact that McConnell was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984. But McGrath is ahead of of the Senate majority leader in terms of fundraising. On June 12, the Louisville Courier Journal reported that McGrath’s campaign had raised a total of $41.1 million, while the Senate majority leader’s reelection campaign had raised $32.8.

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