Sen. Mitch McConnell will be returning to the chamber for another term. But he’s still waiting to see if Republicans can hold on to the majority as Democrats try to take back control for the first time since the 2014 midterms. McConnell has become a central focus of Democratic anger in recent years, and his rapid push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court just days before the election only added to those tensions.
Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath was initially expected to give Democrats a chance at defeating McConnell, but as even her fundraising strength benefited from anti-McConnell angst, her campaign was overwhelmingly viewed as a disappointment. Although McGrath came into the race with all the advantages of an anointed Democratic challenger, she still struggled in her own primary as state Rep. Charles Booker fell within just a few points of beating her with far less money and resources.
In his victory speech on Tuesday night, McConnell said: “My opponent ran a spirited race, she stood up for her views and won a lot of voters. I applaud her willingness to step forward.”
With his wife, Elaine Chao, by his side, he said he never imagined he’d become the longest serving senator in the state’s history or the longest serving Senate Republican leader. “The people of Kentucky had a clear choice and they sent a clear message. Tonight, Kentuckians said that challenging times need proven leadership.”
McGrath conceded soon after. In a video posted to Twitter, she said, “Although we didn’t get the result we wanted, the energy and optimism I saw in every corner of the state gives me so much hope for the future of our great commonwealth.”