Ex-Louisville state rep explores another run at Kentucky U.S. senate seat

In this Sept. 23, 2020 file photo, Kentucky State Rep. Charles Booker addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. Booker, who nearly pulled off an upset in last year’s Senate primary, said he’s “strongly considering” another run for the Senate against Republican Rand Paul. 

(The Center Square) – Charles Booker, a former Louisville Democratic state representative, has announced he’s exploring a run for the party’s nomination in next year’s U.S. Senate election.

Booker rose to prominence last year when he ran for the nomination to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. At first considered a long shot, his grassroots campaign gained traction as Louisville dealt with the aftermath of the Breonna Taylor shooting and the protests that emerged from it and other Black people who died as a result of police altercations.

He lost to Amy McGrath, who was backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, by just more than 15,000 votes or less than 3 percentage points.

His emergence led to speculation he may either run for the Democratic nomination in next year’s Louisville mayoral race or for the Senate again. In 2022, the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is up for election.

On Monday, Booker, who is Black, posted a video on Twitter announcing his move. In the two-and-a-half-minute piece, he touched on some of the issues from last year’s campaign and how they were still relevant a year later.

One area where Booker will likely spend more time on should he end up formally running for office is the “Hood to the Holler” message that he used, noting that many of the same issues that hurt his Louisville West End neighborhood also affect poorer communities in eastern Kentucky, too.

Should Booker run, it seems he’ll also have the support of some prominent national Democrats as well. Such prominent Democrats as Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Julian Castro tweeted their support.

Booker “defied expectations and helped spark a grassroots movement in Kentucky,” said Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary. “I’m confident he could pick up where he left off and win in 2022.”

Whoever the Democrats nominate will face a daunting task in winning a state that has been transformed politically over the last generation. While Democrats have found success in winning the statewide governor’s race, a Democrat has not won a Senate race in Kentucky since Wendell Ford won his last election in 1992.

McConnell in beating McGrath last year lost only three of the state’s 120 counties in winning by more than 417,000 votes.

Booker, for now though, is not daunted.

“They say change isn’t possible in a place like Kentucky,” Booker tweeted. “Well, we already proved them wrong. We showed them what’s possible in Kentucky. In 2022, we can shock the world.”