Stumbles on racial issues have already hurt some establishment candidates. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who is running for the Senate, apologized this month for answering a question about the Black Lives Matter protests by saying the phrase meant “every life matters” — a common conservative response. He now faces a tighter-than-expected primary on June 30 against Andrew Romanoff, the former state House speaker.
And Representative Eliot Engel of New York, a Democrat who has served in Congress for more than three decades, was caught on a recording this month asking to speak at a news conference in the Bronx devoted to Black Lives Matter: “If I didn’t have a primary,” he said, “I wouldn’t care.”
Mr. Engel, 73, faces a serious challenge in tomorrow’s primary from Jamaal Bowman, 44, a Bronx school principal recruited by the Justice Democrats — the same progressive organization that coordinated Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise defeat of Joseph Crowley two years ago. Liberals hope the race will be a repeat of that contest. But unlike then, when Mr. Crowley skipped a debate against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez just 10 days before the primary, no one is being caught unaware.
As my colleague Jesse McKinley wrote, money and marquee endorsements have been flying in the final days of the race. And unlike Mr. Crowley, Mr. Engel hasn’t been shy about attacking his challenger.
In Kentucky, Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot who earned a national following from her close House race in 2018, faces a tightening challenge from Charles Booker, a 35-year-old state representative and unabashed progressive. Mr. Booker was tear-gassed by the police at a recent protest.
As my colleague Jonathan Martin detailed over the weekend, Ms. McGrath, 45, has the cash, raising nearly $41 million to Mr. Booker’s $788,000 as of June 1. But Mr. Booker is catching up in polling, and his crowds have grown in the lead-up to tomorrow’s vote.
Either candidate will face an uphill battle against Senator Mitch McConnell. But the contest is deeply symbolic for Democrats, many of whom detest Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader. Making the senator spend money in his home state would thrill party leaders.