Tuesday's Vote Offers Key Progressive Tests

Challenges in New York and Kentucky on the rise after nationwide protests
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2020 10:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – Primaries in a handful of states were underway Tuesday, most notably in Kentucky and New York. But if previous 2020 primaries are any guide, don't hold your breath waiting for results. An unprecedented deluge of mail-in ballots is expected to cause delays, which could be a harbinger of things to come in November. Related coverage:

  • Big race: One of the big races to watch is in New York, where political newcomer and educator Jamaal Bowman is trying to unseat longtime Congressman Eliot Engel. Bowman is backed by progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, while Engel has the backing of establishment Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. The race is "seen as a test of the establishment's capacity to weather its emboldened left wing," per the New York Times.

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  • Another: In Kentucky, Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath, a former Marine pilot, has long been seen as the favorite to face off against the GOP's Mitch McConnell in November. But she, too, is now facing a challenge from the left in state Rep. Charles Booker, reports CNN. The profile of Booker, 35, has surged because of his prominent role in protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
  • Big question: Related to the above-mentioned races is a crucial question, notes the AP: Will weeks of protests over race issues lead to a larger turnout among progressive and African American voters?
  • AOC, too: Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez faces a primary challenge of her own in New York City, where former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera hopes to pull an upset.
  • Eyes on Louisville: Both Kentucky and New York saw a large demand for mail ballots ahead of Tuesday. All eyes were on Louisville, in particular, because the largest city in Kentucky had just one in-person polling place open. If things go badly, it could be an Election Day mess. Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi also vote Tuesday, though with fewer races than in New York or Kentucky.
  • In November: One lesson from these primaries already is becoming clear: Unless the November presidential vote is a landslide, we may not have a winner for days or weeks, per the Washington Post. States are scrambling to accommodate the surge in mail-in ballots, even as President Trump and the GOP fight to block a major expansion of the process. A long count will surely "create mayhem about a 'rigged' election," historian Douglas Brinkley tells the newspaper. "We'd be better off if Biden or Trump won by a substantial margin."
  • A rule: Some states don't allow mail-in ballots to be counted until after all in-person voting has ended, notes the Post. Typically, that hasn't been a problem, given the relatively small volume of votes mailed in, but this year is anything but typical. State officials have begun pushing to relax the rule so they can begin processing mail ballots the morning of the vote, or even before. In Michigan, for example, the GOP-led legislature is balking at such a change, and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson blames the president's condemnations of mail voting.
(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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