Kentucky Politics

Former Kentucky state representative Charles Booker announced Sunday he’s “strongly considering” a bid for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s seat in 2022.

Booker discussed his future on the KET program Connections with Renee Shaw. The interview aired the day after protesters marked one year since Louisville Metro Police shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

“When Breonna’s door was kicked in, all of our doors were kicked in,” Booker said during the interview. “I think in those moments you can fall into your corner, you can give into fear, you can turn away and give up, or you can come together and push harder to cast a new vision. Coming into 2021, I believe that’s where we are.”

But the Senate run isn’t official yet. Booker said he plans to decide in the coming weeks.

“We’re doing our diligence right now,” he said. “I know how important it is to organize. I know how important it is to make sure that every Kentuckian is heard.”

Some Booker supporters and political observers speculated he might run for mayor of Louisville in 2022, after losing the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2020.

But Booker said Sunday he does not plan to run for mayor.  He said he’s focused on creating structural change beyond the city level. That’s why he wants to continue working statewide with his advocacy group Hood to the Holler and evaluating his opportunities in Washington, D.C.

Booker’s progressive platform includes support for the Green New Deal, universal health care access and guaranteed annual income.

“We want a Kentucky New Deal,” Booker said. “We want a lead on our future. We want to create millions of sustainable new jobs. We want to have the building blocks to create wealth everywhere in Kentucky.”

Booker was a candidate in the 2020 race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Amy McGrath ultimately won the Democratic nomination but lost to McConnell by 20 points.  

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.