- AL Reading Service
Progressives are mounting efforts to best establishment Democrats in Kentucky and New York Tuesday.
Black Lives Matter protests around the country have added energy to the left, and Black progressives are surging in contests in both states.
In Kentucky, the race between the two leading Democrats vying for the right to likely take on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is coming down to the wire. All the momentum is on the side of state Rep. Charles Booker over Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot with a lot of money and the party’s backing.
In New York, a former principal from the Bronx is taking aim at a 30-year-incumbent, Rep. Eliot Engel. Engel hasn’t faced a competitive primary in 20 years, and the pressure is showing.
In all Tuesday, voters in five states head to the polls, including North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi, in addition to Kentucky and New York.
Here’s a look at some of the notable races to watch:
Senate (Democratic) — McGrath vs. Booker
The death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville has changed the trajectory of this race. Booker has all the momentum after attending and taking a leadership role at protests over her death. He’s become something of a progressive cause célèbre, as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes have all endorsed Booker. And a poll out Thursday showed Booker ahead of McGrath. It’s a stunning turn of events, because McGrath has brought in almost $41 million — more than McConnell has raised.
McGrath also has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. McGrath burst on the scene in 2018 with an ad for a House seat that highlighted her career as a fighter pilot. But her loss during that Democratic wave year took some of the shine off, and Democrats privately criticized the campaign she ran. And Booker is out with a powerful new video that encapsulates a lot of the economic and political messages Democrats are pushing nationally. Either Booker or McGrath would start in a hole against McConnell, as polls show both down double-digits against him.
4th Congressional District (Republican) — Massie vs. McMurtry
Is the race between incumbent Rep. Thomas Massie and lawyer Todd McMurtry is coming down to… who’s more racist?
McMurtry, who is a lawyer for one of the students from Covington Catholic High School that had a standoff with an Indigenous activist, landed in hot water after racist tweets of his surfaced. McMurtry then accused Massie of displaying the Confederate battle flag at his home.
Things get more complicated and tie in GOP leadership. Massie upset President Trump and Republican leadership by forcing members back to Washington to vote on a coronavirus relief bill. As a result, House No. 3 Liz Cheney and others donated to McMurtry. But that was before the tweets came out. When that happened, Cheney and other Republicans demanded their money back, which drew ridicule from Massie.
16th Congressional District (Democratic) — Engel vs. Bowman
New York is the site of several key Democratic primary races Tuesday, as many longtime politicians — including Reps. Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney — face a wave of more progressive challengers.
Engel, who has held his congressional seat since 1988, faces perhaps the toughest race, against former middle school principal and education advocate Jamaal Bowman. While Engel has been endorsed by Hillary Clinton, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Bowman has gained increased support from progressive leaders, like Sanders, Warren and New York’s Ocasio-Cortez, who in 2018 herself defeated a longtime Democratic incumbent close to party leadership. In a poll released last week by the left-leaning group Data for Progress, Bowman led Engel by 10 points.
Additional New York races to watch (full results here):
11th Congressional District (Republican) — Bennett vs. Cawthorn
This GOP primary runoff is to fill the seat of former Rep. Mark Meadows, who resigned in March to be Trump’s chief of staff. The two candidates running are real estate agent Lynda Bennett and real estate investor Madison Cawthorn.
Bennett has been endorsed by Trump, Meadows and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, but some Republican voters in the 11th district have expressed doubt and skepticism over controversial campaign choices. The GOP winner will go on to face Democratic nominee Moe Davis, a retired Air Force colonel and former prosecutor.
2nd Congressional District (Republican) — Luria vs. Taylor… Round 2?
Former Rep. Scott Taylor is vying for a rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who defeated Taylor in 2018 by just over 2 percentage points.
Taylor, who had only served one term, faced an election fraud scandal during his reelection campaign after a staffer forged signatures to try to get a third-party candidate on the ballot. Two years later, Taylor says Luria’s decision to support Trump’s impeachment was “the last straw” in prompting him to run. Taylor is the only candidate with prior political experience running for the GOP nomination, and he leads the primary field in fundraising.
2nd Congressional District (Republican) — Carey vs. Flowers
In a runoff election, Republicans Thomas Carey and Brian Flowers will compete for the GOP nomination in this heavily Democratic district. The winner will go on to face Democrat Bennie Thompson, who has held the seat for 27 years. Hillary Clinton won this majority African American district by almost 30 points.