Charles Booker spoke in Paducah following a march
Former Kentucky state representative Charles Booker announced on July 1st he'll be running to unseat Senator Rand Paul in 2022.
Booker has been signaling for months that he was considering a run. Creating an exploratory committee, Booker tested the waters to determine if there is enthusiasm for his candidacy. His announcement a little less than a year from the Democratic primary shows he liked what he heard. More importantly, he liked the funds he raised.
Though nowhere near the war chest available to Senator Paul who has held his seat since 2011, Booker raised enough to convince him there is a chance to take the nomination and the seat. Paul has $.16 million on hand according to Opensecrets.org to Booker's estimated $600,000.
Representative Booker wasn't going to make the mistake he made when he belatedly threw his hat into the ring for a run against Mitch McConnell. Amy McGrath beat him in the Democratic Primary by three points. The slim margin was enough to make her the KDP nominee. It wasn't enough to take McGrath past Senator Mitch McConnell who beat her in a landslide.
Announcing the run a year early gives Booker more time to add to his enthusiastic following. Since his defeat, Booker has continued to travel the state with his "Hood to the Holler" program. Hood to the Holler's goal is to emphasize the connections between Kentucky's rural roots and its urban center.
The negative attacks have already begun. Rand Paul has already telegraphed his plan of attack - tying the African American former legislator to themes tailored to frighten rural conservative voters "defund the police" and reparations for the descendants of former slaves. Booker has participated in Black Lives Matter marches, such as the one he attended in Paducah in 2019
Paul has placed himself as a firm follower of Donald Trump and an anti-Covid 19 vaccination advocate. A recent tweet thread espoused Paul's theory that vaccination should be a matter of choice because of the body's "natural immunity."
Paul is a Covid-19 survivor and a medical doctor. While there are studies indicating immunity for survivors, there are over 600,000 who did not. Paul's "natural immunity" message is in danger of being used to thwart vaccination for those who have not been infected - yet. The low numbers of vaccinations in rural Kentucky counties are worrisome for health officials who fear another surge in cases.
Kaiser Health News: Is Rand Paul Mixing Up the Vaccine Message for Covid Survivors?
Booker will first have to convince the National Democratic Party to support his candidacy. In his last run, McGrath was clearly favored by DC even though there were more candidates in the primary and party rules mandate a hands off approach until voters make their choice. Getting stung in the last US Senate primary by a candidate who came out of the field to seriously challenge the favorite should be an object lesson to DC to focus on Paul and not on who will be the standard bearer in November 2022.