Kentucky election: Democrats flip state Senate seat held by Republicans for 25 years

Danielle Zoellner
·2 min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

Democrats have flipped a state Senate seat previously held by Republicans for the last 25 years.

Dr Karen Berg won the special election for Kentucky‘s 26th Senate District after Republican Senator Ernie Harris announced he was retiring following 25 years in office. She beat Republican candidate Bill Ferko by 14 points.

During the 2018 general election, Dr Berg narrowly lost to Mr Harris when attempting to unseat him for the state Senate.

But her win, announced on Tuesday after officials counted all absentee ballots from the 23 June special election, could signal the blue wave seen across the country during the 2018 general election might be continuing into 2020.

She will remain in her Senate seat until 2022.

The Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self congratulated Dr Berg, saying her win was a “clear sign that Kentucky voters are tired of the divisiveness of the @KYGOP.”

Republicans still hold a super majority within Kentucky’s state Senate, so Dr Berg’s win is unlikely to make a dent in power for the Democratic Party. But it could still signal what might come for Democrats in November.

Suburban swings to Democratic candidates versus Republicans has helped alter the deep-red state in recent election cycles.

Democrat Governor Andy Beshear’s win last year against incumbent Matt Bevin, a Republican, was partly due to that gain in momentum from suburban voters, specifically white women who have turned away from the GOP.

Kentucky Democrats have now turned their sights on a larger and more high-profiled election: the race between US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and challenger Amy McGrath.

Ms McGrath, a moderate Democrat, was announced as the winner against Charles Booker, an African-American state lawmaker who gained momentum amid the Black Lives Matter protests and support from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Following her win, Ms McGrath is now aiming to do potentially the impossible by unseating the top Republican in the US Senate.

If the alleged blue wave is actually happening across the country, with Democrats gaining support in suburban districts and among white women and minority voters, Ms McGrath could have a chance against Mr McConnell.

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