Democrat Charles Booker officially jumped into Kentucky’s 2022 U.S. Senate race Thursday, predicting he’ll “blow out Rand Paul” and win the well-known Republican senator’s seat next year.
Here’s what to know about Booker, who hopes to unite Kentuckians “from the hood to the holler” and build a coalition around his progressive campaign that can beat the odds in this red state:
This isn’t Charles Booker’s first Senate run
Before he turned his aim to Paul’s position, Booker set his sights on unseating Kentucky’s most powerful Republican: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
He joined the 2020 Senate race in January of last year, but by then fellow Democrat Amy McGrath already had established herself as the well-financed front-runner for their party’s primary.
More:Charles Booker, Kentucky’s progressive phenom, looks to carry momentum into ’21 and beyond
He narrowly lost to McGrath, who ran as a moderate candidate to try to win over conservative voters but went on to lose big to McConnell.
However, Booker got a huge surge in support in the final month of the primary campaign that turned heads at the state and national level.
Charles Booker joined last summer’s protests
A big turning point for Booker happened when major protests against police brutality and racism happened in Louisville and across the country last year.
In Louisville, people grieved the loss of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed by police in her apartment in March 2020.
More:‘Heartbreaking and eye-opening’: What Louisvillians say about racial justice protests
Booker joined the protests in his hometown over the loss of Taylor and of many other Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
His involvement in the protests sparked a lot of interest in his campaign and prompted an influx of donations and support. He also got endorsements from marquee politicians like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Even though he lost to McGrath, his better-than-expected performance in the Democratic primary and the excitement he inspired in voters spurred speculation that it wouldn’t be his last campaign.
Charles Booker is a former Kentucky lawmaker
Booker served a two-year term as a state legislator in the Kentucky House of Representatives, where he advocated for making prescription drugs more affordable, for racial justice and for other issues.
He got elected in 2018 but decided to run for McConnell’s seat last year instead of seeking reelection in the state legislature.
After he lost his 2020 Senate bid and as his time as a state lawmaker wound down, Booker founded the Hood to the Holler nonprofit advocacy group.
Where is Charles Booker from?
Booker is a lifelong Louisvillian who grew up in the city’s majority-Black West End, which has suffered decades of segregation and disinvestment.
He often talks about how he intimately knows what it’s like to live in poverty and the ways in which those experiences shaped him.
More:Zoning regulations helped segregate Louisville. Here’s how the city wants to change them
He says he wants to work to break the cycle of generational poverty, which many people across Kentucky are caught up in, and he has made anti-poverty efforts a key part of his campaign pitch.
Charles Booker’s political views
Booker ran an unabashedly left-wing campaign for McConnell’s Senate seat last year, explicitly supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, even though both proposals are common targets for Republican politicians.
He believes he can win in Kentucky as a progressive candidate, even though the state has become increasingly Republican in recent years, by uniting voters based on their common experiences of problems like poverty.
“Rationing your insulin, like I’ve had to do, that’s not partisan. Putting food on the table, being safe in your home, these issues aren’t partisan,” he told The Courier Journal on the day he announced his candidacy. “And if we can tell that truth and show that we’re actually fighting the same battles, so we should fight together, it’s an opportunity to transcend party, to really build this coalition based on those kind of bonds.”
It’s tough for any Democrat to win a Senate seat in Kentucky. The state hasn’t had a Democratic senator since January 1999, when former Sen. Wendell Ford retired.
Reach reporter Morgan Watkins: 502-582-4502; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @morganwatkins26.
Credit: Source link