VOA News By Ken Bredemeier
WASHINGTON – In the United States, Election Night is turning into Election Week, with results in high-profile contests delayed because of the extended time needed to count the hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots by voters who did not want to risk contracting the coronavirus at polling stations.
The election outcome was unknown Wednesday of the high-profile Democratic Senate primary in the southern state of Kentucky between former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath and state lawmaker Charles Booker.
Results will not be known until June 30 which candidate will challenge Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the November election.
McGrath held a 44% to 39.6% lead over Booker in the votes counted Tuesday night. But none of the results had been posted for the state’s biggest city, Louisville, considered to be a Booker stronghold.
Election officials said 161,238 people voted in-person on Tuesday. By Tuesday morning, 530,196 of the 867,842 ballots sent out before Election Day had already been returned.
The Democratic victor will face a tough contest against 78-year-old McConnell, a fixture in Kentucky and the Washington power structure. He has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump’s legislative proposals and his appointment of conservative judges. Trump is popular in Kentucky, which he won by about 30 percentage points in 2016.
In another key election, New York Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appeared in trouble in his bid for a 17th two-year term in the House of Representatives, although a final vote count could be days away.
Former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, who had never run for office, held a lead of 61% to 36% over Engel with in-person voting counted.
New York election officials cautioned that a large number of mail-in ballots will not be counted until next week, delaying the outcome.
Bowman expressed confidence about the eventual result to his supporters late Tuesday.
“I cannot wait to get to Congress and cause problems for the people in there who have been maintaining a status quo that is literally killing our children,” he said.
Engel said in a statement, “With so many absentee ballots outstanding and many still coming in, we know that the full results in the primary won’t be known for some time.”
Engel has represented New York’s 16th congressional district for 16 terms. Bowman is a more liberal candidate who drew the backing of prominent progressives, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who herself won an upset victory over a veteran congressman in 2018.
Mail-in ballots will also decide another New York district, with Democrat Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, in a race that is too close to call with lawyer and activist Suraj Patel. With all precincts reporting, but no mail-in ballots included yet, Maloney held a 41% to 40% lead.
Ocasio-Cortez was among the New York incumbents in contested races who easily won their primaries Tuesday. Others include congressmen Gregory Meeks and Joseph Morelle, and congresswomen Grace Meng and Nydia Velazquez.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Congresswoman Yvette Clark had large leads, but their races have not yet been called with mail-in ballots outstanding.
Trump endorsed two New York Republicans, Claudia Tenney and Nicole Malliotakis, who each won their primaries Tuesday and will try to unseat incumbent Democrats in November.
Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs defeated Democrat Nate McMurray as voters in New York’s 27th congressional district decided a special election to select a representative to fill out the remaining half year of the term of former Congressman Chris Collins, who resigned in September shortly before pleading guilty to insider stock trading charges.
Jacobs and McMurray will face off again in November in an election for a full two-year term.
In North Carolina, newcomer Madison Cawthorn notched an upset win in a Republican House primary over Lynda Bennett, the candidate Trump endorsed. If Cawthorn wins in November, he would become the youngest member of Congress at age 25.
In Virginia, retired Army lieutenant colonel Daniel Gade won a three-way race in the Republican Senate primary. He will face two-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in November.
Republican Scott Taylor won a three-way primary in Virginia’s 2nd congressional district and will go up against incumbent Congresswoman Elaine Luria. The two candidates faced each other in a 2018 congressional election, with Luria winning 51% to 49%.
Incumbent House Democrats Donald McEachin and Gerry Connolly easily won their contested primaries in Virginia on Tuesday.
There were also House primaries in Kentucky, where Republican incumbents Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Harold Rogers and Andy Barr all easily won.