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Primary election 2022: U.S. Senate

Amina Elahi

Incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul is up for reelection and seeking his third term in office.

Though Paul and Democrat Charles Booker are the clear fundraising frontrunners for their parties' respective races, voters have a long list of candidates to pick from.

Some of candidates haven't actively campaigned since filing to run for the seat, while others are battling headwinds of low name recognition.

Here's who's running for U.S. Senate this year:


Joshua Blanton Sr. is an Army veteran and cannabis legalization activist from Louisville. In a video posted in August 2021, Blanton said he supports Medicare For All and wants to use revenue raised from cannabis sales to go to schools, roads and helping the homeless.

Charles Booker is a Louisville attorney, activist and former state representative. Booker ran for U.S. Senate in 2020, but narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Marine pilot Amy McGrath. Booker founded an organization called Hood to the Holler, seeking to build political coalitions between Kentucky’s urban and rural areas. After launching his 2022 campaign, Booker said he wants to create a “Kentucky New Deal,” to lift people out of poverty, build infrastructure and provide universal health coverage.

Ruth Gao is an educator from Louisville who says she’s running “to usher in a new generation of leadership” in the Senate. In an interview on WKYT in 2021, Gao said younger people’s voices need to be heard on issues like student loan debt, affordable housing and fair wages.

John Merrill is a chemist and U.S. Navy veteran from McKee who has not actively campaigned for the seat.


Rand Paul is an ophthalmologist from Bowling Green and has represented Kentucky in the U.S. Senate since 2011. The son of former Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Paul was first elected to the Senate during the Tea Party wave that rose up in reaction to the election of Democratic President Barack Obama. Paul has pushed for limiting government, lowering taxes and getting out of foreign wars. He ran for president in 2016, but withdrew from the race early in the primary season. After locking horns with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race, Paul became one of the former president’s top defenders. In recent years, he has become one of the preeminent skeptics of the country’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, and advocated for firing the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci.

Arnold Blankenship is from Ashland and has not actively campaigned for the seat.

Val Fredrick is a physician from Murray. On her campaign website, Fredrick describes political interests as “pro-life, traditional family, closed borders to noncitizens, constitutional protection by counties, states rights.” She criticizes Paul and others for voting to certify the 2020 election, and called on former President Trump to "stop endorsing Republicans that voted against the American people and first family on Jan. 6.”

Paul Hamilton is an economics professor at Midway University who lives in Wilmore. According to his campaign website, Paul opposes abortion, wants to simplify the country’s tax code, reduce the national debt and tackle inflation by changing how the Federal Reserve works.

John Schiess is a retired teacher and talk show host from Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He ran for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2016, but dropped out before the primary elections, and was a write-in candidate for a Wisconsin congressional election in 2014.

Tami Stainfield lives in Marion and has a background in sales. On her campaign website, Stainfield says the country “is faced with a cost of living crisis which further hinders a citizens ability to afford, secure and maintain life, liberty, law and property.”

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