Charles Booker Gains Momentum As Primary Approaches Friday, Jun 12 2020 

The morning after Louisville restaurateur David McAtee was shot and killed by National Guard member, his body laid outside, for almost 14 hours, while police investigated.

Hundreds gathered nearby, many horrified that the body was still there. Charles Booker spoke through a megaphone, urging people to be calm and not run across the street as officials prepared to remove the body from the scene.

“If you rush over there, I’m going to run with you. But if you rush over there, it’s going to get worse,” Booker said.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Booker is a freshman state representative. He’s 35 years old and has lived in west Louisville his whole life.

“All my family’s from down here. Y’all are my family. I would jump in front of them for y’all, I don’t care,” Booker said.

Though he’s only been in the legislature for about a year and a half, Booker has been a voice for people frustrated with racism and injustice.

And he’s spoken out about it, like last year, when Paducah Republican Rep. Randy Bridges yelled at Booker to “sit down” during a debate on the House Floor.

Shortly after, Booker said the incident showed “just how real and present racism and supremacy are in our lives.”

Then a couple months later at an event in Paducah before the annual Fancy Farm political event, Booker said the incident reminded him of other times in history people were told to sit down.

“I thought about my grandad, who fought to desegregate his job back in Louisville. I thought about Kentuckians like you all that never sit down, that never give up, that fight every day. And I said you know what, I cannot sit down,” Booker said.

Booker has been running for Senate since January. By then, there was already a high profile candidate in the Democratic race to take on Mitch McConnell — Amy McGrath, the retired Marine fighter pilot who has gotten national attention and raised millions of dollars.

Lincoln County farmer and retired Marine Mike Broihier had also entered the race, running to the left of McGrath.

Throughout the race, McGrath sucked up most of the funding and attention in the Democratic Primary…that is until a couple weeks ago, when protesters in Louisville took to the streets to protest the police killing of Breonna Taylor. And Booker joined them.

“This was a very horrific incident, inexplicable and the fact that it happened months ago and no one really knew these details means that there’s a lot of apologies that need to be rendered,” Booker said before a Black Lives Matter rally on May 31.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Because of his near-constant presence during the protests, Booker become familiar to a lot of people who didn’t know him before, like Lynn Berry, who heard him speak after McAtee’s death.

“I love politics, I’m real woke to politics. I had not paid enough attention to him as of yet,” Berry said.

“He is catching my attention. It matters to me that he’s present, so that goes a long way.”

The question remains if Booker has built up the name recognition and support across the state to overcome McGrath, who has been campaigning for nearly a year and ran a high-profile race for Congress in 2018, which she lost.

Last month, Booker was endorsed by 16 Democratic members in the state House of Representatives, including House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins. He also received endorsements this week from the state’s two largest newspapers.

And many progressive voters have become dissatisfied with McGrath. She initially said she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, then retracted it. She’s also said she would work with President Donald Trump on some issues.

Booker is betting on those voters showing up for him. In a recent ad, he went after McGrath, suggesting that she’d just help Trump get his way.

Democrats running statewide elections in increasingly-Republican Kentucky usually worry about straying too far from the center.

But policy-wise, Booker is a progressive. He supports Medicare For All, the Green New Deal and universal basic income. In the legislature he’s fought for gun safety, criminal justice reform and abortion rights.

Democratic voters can weigh in during the June 23rd primary election either by mail-in ballot, or with limited in-person voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are 10 Democrats vying for the nomination.

Eleanor Klibanoff contributed to this report.

State Rep. Charles Booker Enters Senate Race Against McConnell Sunday, Jan 5 2020 

Another Democrat has entered the race to challenge Senator Mitch McConnell for his seat in Congress.

Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker announced his Senate run on Sunday in Louisville. He was elected to his first term last year. In his speech he mentioned McConnell and gave a nod to the other Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, who’s raised a lot of money in the race.

 “Money doesn’t vote, people do; So sure [McConnell] has a lot of money, sure his big corporate buddies he sold out to will flood this campaign, but we have power in the people, and there’s a lot of people all over this country that know if we get rid of Mitch McConnell, we’re gonna be doing the whole world a solid,” Booker said. “Anybody that thinks you’re going to out-raise him is not being serious about beating him. This is not about how much money you spend. It’s about the work you put on the ground.”

Booker’s work has mainly been centered in Louisville. He previously served as director of strategic partnerships for a Louisville nonprofit, and as an education and equity policy analyst at the Louisville Urban League.

Booker made the announcement at event venue Manhattan on Broadway in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. He talked about several policy issues, including environmental justice, Medicare For All, the Green New Deal and gun violence.

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Charles Booker speaks at his Senate launch announcement.

Booker hasn’t specified which version of universal health care system Medicare for All he’d go for; there are several different versions in Congress. But he made it clear no one should go without needed care or medicine. 

“I live in one of the poorest ZIP codes in Kentucky; We need to make sure that the wealthiest few are paying their fair share, and there are plenty of ways to do that,” Booker said. “We know it, it’s there, we just have to fight for it. The reality is, making sure that no one dies because they don’t have enough money in their pocket should be something we should all agree on and figure it out.”

Booker lives in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood, where the median household income is around $20,400, according to the Greater Louisville Project. During his speech Sunday he mentioned developing Diabetes Type 1 as a child, and his mother making tough choices to buy his medicine in lieu of paying the electric bill. 

State Representative Attica Scott spoke in support of Booker at the event Sunday.

“As someone who loves Kentucky deeply, I am ready for someone who is going to fight for you because he loves you, who’s not going to reject you because of your language,” Scott said. “I am ready for someone who believes that all of us should be counted, including people who are undocumented; someone who used to work at Kentucky jobs with justice; I am ready for someone who is going to stand up and with organized labor.”

His support for some left-leaning  policies differentiates him from Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot who narrowly lost a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr last year. She’s called herself a moderate.

McConnell, the longtime senator and now Senate Majority Leader, has never lost a Senate race since first elected in 1984. 

The other Democrat who has filed to run in next year’s primary election is Mike Broihier, a retired Marine, news editor and farmer.

The primary election is May 19, 2020.

 

Ky. Rep. Charles Booker Announces Potential U.S. Senate Bid To Challenge McConnell Monday, Nov 11 2019 

Kentucky state representative Charles Booker says he is exploring a run for U.S. Senate in 2020, potentially challenging Democrats Amy McGrath and Mike Broihier in the primary in hopes of taking on incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell next November. Booker announced the formation of his exploratory committee by video on Monday.

Booker, 35, is a liberal legislator and lawyer from Louisville who was elected to his first term last year. He serves on the Natural Resources and Energy, Judiciary, and Economic Development and Workforce Investment committees. Booker is a member of the Louisville Metropolitan and Kentucky Black Legislative caucuses.

McConnell, the longtime senator and now Senate majority leader, has never lost a Senate race. First elected in 1984, he has over time consolidated his power, a fact conservative supporters love and opponents lament.

He is also the subject of Booker’s campaign announcement video.

“He doesn’t need hope or faith. He’s got money and power,” Booker says, of McConnell. “And the more power he’s winning Washington, the more we lose in Kentucky.”

Forming an exploratory committee allows candidates to raise money to pay for polling and other campaign expenses while deciding whether to officially run.

In the video, Booker criticizes McConnell’s polices, through explicit references and allusions to climate change, gun violence and health care. He calls for a Green New Deal and for Medicare for All.

His support for those policies puts him to the left of McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot who narrowly lost a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

The other Democrat who has filed to run in next year’s primary election is Mike Broihier, a retired Marine, news editor and farmer.

Radio host Matt Jones has also formed an exploratory committee, but has not decided whether to officially run.

Former Republican state Rep. Wesley Morgan is the lone Republican who has filed to challenge McConnell in next year’s primary election.

The primary election is May 19, 2020.

Booker did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

SGA holds third annual FancyVille event Tuesday, Sep 24 2019 

By Byron Hoskinson–

The University of Louisville’s Student Government Association drew more than 250 students to the Red Barn on Sept. 17 for a day of political debates and pulled pork at the third annual FancyVille event.

SGA Deputy Chief of Staff Ben Barberie said FancyVille is part of a larger initiative to get students engaged in politics both on and off campus. “[SGA’s] goal with FancyVille was to increase student political engagement, so many of the events were tailored around that,” Barberie said.

Such events included an open panel with local representatives, voter registration drives and tables set up for the College Democrats and College Republicans clubs Barberie said. The SGA-coordinated forum and lunch takes its name and structure from the renowned Fancy Farm political picnic, a yearly affair in southeastern Kentucky that attracts high-level politicians to its local venue to discuss current events and eat barbecue.

In true Fancy Farm fashion, SGA brought out big political names to discuss current events and controversies before opening up the floor for students to grab a plate of catered Mark’s Feed Store or Chipotle. The McConnell Center also contributed to the event, handing out pocket Constitutions alongside cupcakes in celebration of Constitution Day.

Congressman John Yarmuth, U.S. Rep. for Kentucky’s third congressional district, spoke for an hour with SGA Director of Government Relations Malcomb Haming about topics ranging from presidential indictments, to his family’s heritage to the necessity of good faith bipartisanship.

Following the break for lunch, the day turned back to politics with a panel led by state and municipal legislators discussing local issues. The panelists included Louisville Metro Council president David James, state senators Morgan McGarvey and Julie Raque Adams, and state Reps. Charles Booker and Jason Nemes.

Barberie said getting political representatives and other public servants on campus is in line with SGA’s goal of promoting student involvement in elections through access. “One of the best roles that SGA can play is increasing engagement with all different types of offices across campus, whether those be political offices or the police department,” he said.

“One of our goals is to remove barriers to communication and make it a lot easier to talk to the people who are making the decisions.”

Students can register to vote, check the status of their registration, and find their precinct locations at https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/ovrweb/govoteky.

Photo By Anna Claire / The Louisville Cardinal 

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