Warren endorses Booker in Kentucky Senate primary

Warren endorses Booker in Kentucky Senate primary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE (D-Mass.) threw her support behind Charles Booker on Thursday in the race for the Democratic Senate nomination in Kentucky, becoming the latest high-profile progressive to endorse the freshman state lawmaker. 

“@Booker4KY is a lifelong Kentuckian who has seen how Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE and Washington, D.C. have failed working families,” Warren tweeted. “I’m proud to endorse him and join his fight to root out corruption, dismantle systemic racism, and make big, structural change.”

Booker has racked up a series of endorsements from prominent Democrats as he looks to overtake longtime front-runner Amy McGrath ahead of the June 23 primary. 

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Earlier this month, he scored endorsements from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Young minority voters show overwhelming support for Biden: poll MORE (D-N.Y.), and just this week Alison Lundergan Grimes, the former Kentucky secretary of State and one of the most well-known Democrats in the state, threw her support behind Booker.

Warren’s endorsement of Booker, however, is a particular blow to McGrath, who has long been the favorite of Democratic Senate leaders in Washington. After McGrath launched her Senate bid last year, Warren appeared supportive of the former Marine combat pilot, even calling on supporters to “help” McGrath “win in November.”

“Amy McGrath has never backed down from the tough fights – and in Washington, she's going to keep fighting for working families. Let's help @AmyMcGrathKY win in November,” Warren tweeted in October, linking to a now-defunct fundraising page. 

Her endorsement of Booker comes at a time when the dynamics of the primary race in Kentucky are rapidly shifting. The freshman state representative largely flew under the radar after announcing his Senate campaign in January, while McGrath emerged as a fundraising juggernaut and prohibitive front-runner.

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But Booker has emerged as a powerful voice in recent weeks as protests over racial injustice and police brutality gripped his hometown of Louisville and cities across the country. 

He began airing the first television ads of his campaign earlier this month, including one spot released this week that takes aim at McGrath for her absence from the protests. 

It’s not yet clear if Booker’s late momentum in the race will be enough to help him clinch the nomination on Tuesday. Many voters began mailing in ballots before his recent surge. And the presence of another liberal in the primary, farmer and Marine veteran Mike Broihier, threatens to split the progressive vote and complicate Booker’s path to victory. 

Regardless of who wins the Democratic primary, they are likely to face an uphill battle in the general election against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).