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Potential McConnell Challenger Charles Booker Brings Listening Tour to Bowling Green

Lisa Autry

A Democratic state lawmaker exploring a run against U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell says he would be committed to the Green New Deal if elected to Congress. 

State Representative Charles Booker from Jefferson County was in Bowling Green on Friday where he picked up an endorsement from the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activism group. 

Booker grew up in Louisville’s West End, the poorest zip code in the state. Booker said neighborhoods like his are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.

“We have brownfields around us. The ponds are contaminated, so you can’t fish there," Booker explained to a small crowd of supporters at the Lunchbox Cafe. "There’s a part of the area called Rubbertown where you have to hold your nose when you go by there because chemicals are being emitted. You can rub your finger on the side of your home and get residue on it.”

Booker’s endorsement coincides with climate strikes taking place across the nation on Friday. Some students walked out of class at WKU and marched to the Justice Center in downtown Bowling Green in support of the Green New Deal. 

Booker has until the January 10 filing deadline to decide whether to mount a challenge against McConnell. 

He would first have to win a Democratic primary that includes former Congressional candidate Amy McGrath, who has high name recognition from her unsuccessful bid for a U.S. House seat. She has also already raised more than $10 million. 

Booker said his grassroots movement is stronger than any war chest.

"It doesn’t matter how much money is thrown at it," Booker said Friday. "If you inspire folks to believe they can do something different, that their voices matter, if you look throughout history, money can’t beat that.”

Booker was elected to the Kentucky House last year and formerly served in the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife as an appointee of former Governor Steve Beshear.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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