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McConnell Headed Back to US Senate, But Will Reviled Republican Remain Majority Leader?

The Kentucky Republican fends off challenge from centrist Democrat Amy McGrath.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks with reporters following the weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee luncheon in the U.S. Capitol November 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks with reporters following the weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee luncheon in the U.S. Capitol November 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was projected as the likely winner by major news outlets Tuesday night, as he thwarted—surprising almost nobody—Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, a former U.S. Marine who ran a centrist campaign.

The victory for McConnell means the reviled architect of President Donald Trump's takeover of the nation's judiciary—and the lawmaker in Washington, D.C. most responsible for tanking congressional efforts to achieve much-needed Covid-19 relief in recent months even as the nation suffers under severe economic pain—is headed back to the U.S. Senate for another term.

The race was called by the Associated Press and NBC News just before 8:30 pm ET. As of this writing, based on returns provided by AP and with an estimated 71% votes reported, McConnell had won 57.5% (955,512) compared to McGrath's 38.6% (641,027).

Critics of McConnell were quick to note that even though he has retained his seat, there is still hope that wins in a number of key Senate races by Democrats on Tuesday would strip him of his coveted majority position.

With a current 52 to 48 split in the Senate, Democrats need to pick up at least 4 seats to recapture the majority. As Vox reported earlier on Tuesday, the idea that Democrats would win enough seats to obtain a 60-seat supermajority is unlikely.

McGrath was backed by huge amounts of money, but it wasn't enough.

Progressives, meanwhile, on Tuesday noted how establishment Democrats—including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)—had backed McGrath in the primary over Charles Booker, who only narrowly lost that contest even as he ran an insurgent campaign in support of the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, increasing the minimum wage, and other visionary policies.

"They spent $40 million+ to get her across the finish line against Booker," tweeted The American Prospect's Alex Sammon of the DSCC effort in the primary. "They could've just stayed out of it and let the best candidate win, and put that money towards beating McConnell."

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