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Republican Andy Barr defeats Amy McGrath to hold crucial Kentucky 6th District

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican Rep. Andy Barr held off a surprisingly strong challenge to defeat Democratic candidate Amy McGrath in Kentucky's 6th District, avoiding what would have been a significant defeat in a district Trump won handily in 2016.

Barr defeated McGrath 50.9 percent (140,178 votes) to 47.9 percent (132.061 votes), according to The New York Times.

The race was considered an early indicator of Democrats' chances to take control of the House of Representatives, because it represented a chance for Democrats to take a strongly conservative district. Trump won the district by 16 points in 2016.  The race was considered a toss-up by The Cook Political Report.

Kentucky's 6th is a district split between conservative voters in rural areas of Bluegrass country and the city of Lexington, which includes the University of Kentucky.

Barr easily won his seat by 22 points two years ago, and was pushed somewhat surprisingly by McGrath, who raised a notable amount of money -- $3.65 million in the third quarter alone.

Barr first won the seat in 2012, upsetting Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler. Chandler was considered a "blue dog Democrat" partially because he voted against Obamacare, but Barr successfully portrayed him as an ally to Obama, who was unpopular in the district.

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