UPDATED: 3:51 p.m. ET, July 1, 2021 —
He made his intentions known in March and now former Kentucky state representative Charles Booker has formally launched a Senate campaign directly challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul who is running for a third term.
Booker told the Courier-Journal that his campaign will continue the path set forward on his last campaign run, investing in the progressive movement to make Kentucky a state that will “come together across race, class geography.” However, Booker acknowledged it will take a deep reckoning and healing.
Last year Booker shook up the establishment after running a successful campaign for Senate, closing the gap against his Democratic opponent Amy McGrath and surpassing Sen. Mitch McConnell in campaign donations.
Booker’s campaign exemplified an important moment in Kentucky’s political history after a particularly disappointing upset where he lost to McConnell in the general election.
His campaign announced the launch Thursday afternoon in a majority Black neighborhood located in Louisville which lies in the same district he represented in the statehouse. Booker believes he will persevere regardless of the shared notion that a centrist Democrat candidate is the only individual who could gain traction in Kentucky.
“I know for a fact that we will blow out Rand Paul,” he said. The path to victory really goes to the heart of us redefining our politics.”
Kentucky might finally get needed representation from the “hood to the holler” if Charles Booker runs for U.S. Senate in 2022. A former state representative, Booker teased Sunday that he’s considering running to unseat Sen. Rand Paul.
Speaking with Kentucky Educational Television, Booker laid out his reasons for a potential campaign.
“As long as I wake up in the Commonwealth of Kentucky I’m going to be fighting,” said Booker. “I’m giving it all I have to make this place better.”
Explaining the possibility of a Senate run, Booker said the work is not yet done. “We have the ability to tell a new story for Kentucky,” shared Booker.
Rising from underdog status in the 2020 Kentucky Democratic primary to nearly unseating establishment favorite Amy McGrath, Booker picked up steam closer to election day. In the middle of a pandemic and racial justice uprisings, Booker emerged as a candidate willing to take a stand on issues that mattered to people.
“We won something bigger than any one election,” said Booker. “We inspired people to believe that things can be different.”
After the end of his race, he kept the momentum going through the organization Hood to the Holler. A 501(c)(4) non-profit, Hood to the Holler is more than a slogan, it recognizes issues communities face across geography.
“It’s focused on the power that we can leverage as people, as human beings, as Kentuckians to not only change societal issues and challenges that we face, but transform our politics,” Booker explained. “It’s realizing that people are the most important aspect of democracy. It’s realizing that the voices of people in the forgotten places who have won from the hollers in Appalachia and everywhere in between. That those voices are the pathway to a brighter future.”
The organization continues hosting training and voter registration events across the state. Booker built into the commonality without erasing the value of people’s differences. Booker campaigned across the state and made inroads in many communities talking about his own experiences with affording insulin and supporting loved ones struggling through addiction and related challenges.
Booker sees an opportunity to build a consensus across Kentucky based on issues and building opportunity instead of getting caught up in partisan battles.
“People like Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have told us we’re divided, but we aren’t,” beamed Booker. “We’re unified in our fight to heal, to take care of our family and to take care of Kentucky. And that is a message that can build new coalitions and I’m excited to tell this story.”