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State Rep. Charles Booker Enters Senate Race Against McConnell

Charles Booker

Another Democrat has entered the race to challenge Senator Mitch McConnell for his seat in Congress.

Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker announced his Senate run on Sunday in Louisville. He was elected to his first term last year. In his speech he mentioned McConnell and gave a nod to the other Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, who's raised a lot of money in the race.

 “Money doesn't vote, people do; So sure [McConnell] has a lot of money, sure his big corporate buddies he sold out to will flood this campaign, but we have power in the people, and there's a lot of people all over this country that know if we get rid of Mitch McConnell, we're gonna be doing the whole world a solid,” Booker said. “Anybody that thinks you're going to out-raise him is not being serious about beating him. This is not about how much money you spend. It's about the work you put on the ground.”

Booker has previously worked in Frankfort, at the Legislative Research Commission and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. He's also worked in Louisville, as a policy analyst at the Louisville Urban League.

Booker made the announcement at event venue Manhattan on Broadway in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. He talked about several policy issues, including environmental justice, Medicare For All, the Green New Deal and gun violence.

Booker hasn’t specified which version of universal health care system Medicare for All he’d go for; there are several different versions in Congress. But he made it clear no one should go without needed care or medicine. 

“I live in one of the poorest ZIP codes in Kentucky; We need to make sure that the wealthiest few are paying their fair share, and there are plenty of ways to do that,” Booker said. “We know it, it's there, we just have to fight for it. The reality is, making sure that no one dies because they don't have enough money in their pocket should be something we should all agree on and figure it out.”

Booker lives in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood, where the median household income is around $20,400, according to the Greater Louisville Project. During his speech Sunday he mentioned developing Diabetes Type 1 as a child, and his mother making tough choices to buy his medicine in lieu of paying the electric bill. 

State Representative Attica Scott spoke in support of Booker at the event Sunday.

“As someone who loves Kentucky deeply, I am ready for someone who is going to fight for you because he loves you, who's not going to reject you because of your language,” Scott said. “I am ready for someone who believes that all of us should be counted, including people who are undocumented; someone who used to work at Kentucky jobs with justice; I am ready for someone who is going to stand up and with organized labor.”

His support for some left-leaning policies differentiates him from AmyMcGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot whonarrowly lost a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr last year. She’s called herself a moderate.

McConnell has served in the Senate since winning the seat in 1984. He became the Senate Majority Leader in 2015.

Besides McGrath, Booker will face Mike Broihier in the Kentucky Democratic Primary.

The primary election is May 19, 2020.

This story has been updated.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.