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Charles Booker Launches Campaign For U.S. Senate

Lisa Gillespie

Former state Rep. Charles Booker is running for U.S. Senate with hopes of defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who has held the seat since his election in 2010.

Booker, a Democrat, made the announcement in avideo posted on Twitter Thursday morning, but an in-person rollout is scheduled for 12pm today at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

With nearly a year and a half until the election, no other prominent Democrats have filed to run for the seat so far.

Booker ran for Senate last year and sprinted to prominence amid racial justice protests ahead of the delayed June primary election. But he was narrowly defeated by retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who went on to lose to incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell in a landslide in the general election.

A native of the Russell neighborhood in Louisville, Booker graduated from University of Louisville law school. He worked as an analyst for the Legislative Research Commission, director of administrative services for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2018.

He didn’t seek reelection to the statehouse last year in order to run for Senate.

Booker will face stiff Republican headwinds during the campaign. Kentucky hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1992 and Republicans cruised to easy victories in last year’s statewide elections.

President Donald Trump won the state by 26 percentage points in 2016 and Mitch McConnell won by 20 percentage points last year.

But Democrats did win one statewide election in recent history—now-Gov. Andy Beshear’s victory over then-Gov. Matt Bevin by a little more than 5,000 votes in 2019.

Republicans have attributed Bevin’s loss to the former governor’s abrasive personality and unpopularity.


Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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