By Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal
Democratic state Rep. Charles Booker thinks Kentucky is ready to make history if he enters the 2020 U.S. Senate race to take on Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The 34-year-old freshman legislator confirmed speculation that he is considering giving up his seat in the General Assembly to make a run in next year’s primary election.
“I’m evaluating the best way I can have an impact for Kentucky in 2020,” Booker, of Louisville, said in an interview with the Courier Journal. “This is something I am taking very seriously, and something my family and I are making sure is a decision that is mindful of the responsibility I have now.”
Asked if the Democratic Party is ready to nominate and if the Bluegrass State is ready to elect an African American to the Senate, Booker said the commonwealth deserves an opportunity to decide.
“I’ve never been afraid of a fight, and so negative attacks don’t concern me,” he said. “I’m privileged to be in the state legislature, and short of being a father, it’s been the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life.”
Booker, whose district stretches from predominately black neighborhoods in western Louisville through downtown and into white suburban areas, is one of many names that have emerged as possible contenders for the Democratic nomination since former Marine Amy McGrath’s rocky rollout last week.
McGrath started the campaign by telling MSNBC hosts that McConnell hadn’t done enough to help President Donald Trump keep his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
The former fighter pilot then infuriated progressive voters and groups across the country when she told the Courier Journal she would have voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Hours later, McGrath backpedaled and said she would have, in fact, not voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the high court.
Booker said McGrath’s stumbles haven’t played a role in his decision making, and denied rumors that he has been approached by state or national party figures.
“I join a lot of folks across Kentucky with concerns about some of the messaging that was communicated in that rollout, but my decision has nothing to do with that,” he said.
But many took one of Booker’s recent tweets as a jab at McGrath for suggesting that McConnell hadn’t done enough to help the president.
“The only thing Donald Trump has done for Kentucky is lie, further destabilize industries, and exploit fear,” Booker tweeted on July 9, the day of McGrath’s announcement. “McConnell hasn’t blocked him, he has coddled him. He has pacified him to our detriment. He has turned a calamity into sustained threat to democracy. Period.”
Other potential Democrats who might join McGrath in the 2020 contest are Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones and Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins.
Health care professional Steve Cox, of Madisonville, has also declared for the 2020 Democratic primary.