Even Mr. Booker would have found a contest against Mr. McConnell difficult. In choosing Ms McGrath, however, the Kentucky Democrats are taking a careful course, proposing a moderate politician well-funded with military credentials in a red state.
Mr. Booker, who functioned as an outspoken progressive, argued that such an approach had been attempted before and was doomed to fail. Winning the support of local newspapers and liberal leaders outside the state such as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mr. Booker furiously attacked the killings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee to shake up what had been a quiet run mainly conducted under the radar until the last month.
Mr. Booker conceded the bidding on Tuesday evening and urged Democrats to “devote himself to the work of beating Mitch”, although he noted that some voters had trouble throwing ballots during the pandemic and raised questions about some absent ballots that didn’t were counted.
In his statement, Mr. Booker just mentioned Ms. McGrath – except to say the race wasn’t “about me and Amy” – but implicitly wiped out his campaign. “We have shown that you don’t have to pretend to be a Republican to run for Democrat in Kentucky and that people want big and bold solutions,” he said.
The factory-aligned national Democrats, led by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, had actually tried to crown Ms. McGrath last year. By virtue of the extensive fundraising list she built in her failed run in the 2018 House and the contempt that Democratic donors hold for Mr. McConnell, they saw her as someone who could run competitively and perhaps force Republicans to divert money to Kentucky.
He will still have a lot of money for his run against Mr. McConnell, who is looking for a seventh term, but his erratic performance as a candidate, first in 2018 and again in this primary, has raised doubts about how strong a campaign will be in the general elections.