Kentucky governor race could decide how closely Mitch McConnell sticks with Trump: report
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, left) and President Donald Trump (right). Image via screengrab.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not considered by most polling experts to be at serious risk of losing his re-election bid in 2020. He suffers from high disapproval ratings, and one of his current challengers, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, is beating his fundraising numbers, but Kentucky is an extremely partisan state and is unlikely to throw away a senator who gives them outsized power. In 2014, some polls suggested a close race against Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, only for him to win with double digits.

All the same, suggested Kerry Picket in the conservative Washington Examiner, a key proxy race that might determine McConnell's re-election posture will be the Kentucky gubernatorial race, which will be decided on Tuesday.

This contest is different in many ways — state offices tend to be less partisan, and are often about different issues. But incumbent governor Matt Bevin boasts similar unpopularity ratings to McConnell, the race is widely expected to be close.

In particular, Bevin has tried to shore up his support by staying close to President Donald Trump, who is holding a rally to support him on the eve of the polls opening. "Should Trump’s pre-election day rally help Bevin, McConnell is likely to look to Trump for help in the state as well," wrote Picket.

Conversely, if Bevin fails to cross the finish line, McConnell may be less eager for Trump to hold rallies for him — particularly if Rocky Adkins, the state House Minority Leader who has held a number of his own campaign events to support Democrat Andy Beshear, decides to mount a Senate campaign of his own.

Either way, tomorrow's election is likely to cast a shadow over Kentucky's upcoming races — and inform McConnell and his opponents of how to proceed.