Charles Booker said he believes Kentucky is worth fighting for, and that listening to people from all corners of the Commonwealth and addressing issues such as poverty with a nonpartisan mindset is key for the future. Booker made a stop at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn on Monday, speaking to a small crowd about his 2022 U.S. Senate campaign as he hopes to unseat Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
“I’ve launched this campaign for U.S. Senate out of dedication to the people of Kentucky and so I’m going all over the Commonwealth … to say that we can transform our future together if we listen and we come out of our corners and work together,” Booker said. “I’m launching an effort to hear the voices of the people of Kentucky, so that I can be accountable to them.”
After speaking to about two dozen supporters Booker said he’s purposely addressing small, intimate groups “so that we can actually hear folks and connect.”
Booker, a Democrat, said politics has gotten too polarizing and it’s the people of Kentucky who are paying the price.
“My priorities are how do we ultimately transform our future so that poverty is a thing of the past? How do we make sure that everyone can live a gainful life, can have more money in their pocket, have food on their table, have quality health care, good paying union jobs, and just be okay? I mean, these things aren’t partisan,” Booker said. “We need radical investment in our infrastructure, in our economy, and in the people of Kentucky, and none of that is partisan. I think speaking the truth that we deserve more is what will inspire more people to stand up and fight back.”
Booker said he knows firsthand what those struggles feel like after growing up in one of the poorest zip codes in Kentucky.
“I’ve seen a lot, and I saw the struggles my parents went through,” he said. “Both my parents dropped out of high school, but they’re both ministers. And so what we didn’t have in money we had faith, we had in family, we had in love. … I’ve seen what it looks like to work hard and not have enough. I remember the times my mom went without eating just so I could eat. It changed my life. I didn’t want to stay that way. I don’t want anyone to feel that type of pain.”
As a Type 1 diabetic, Booker said he also knows what it’s like to ration insulin. Experiences like that drove him to first run for a U.S. Senate seat last year — when he lost in the primary — and now press forward harder with the new campaign.
He said he wants to be a voice for the people, but it would take everyone to make a difference.
“We’re all family and if we stand together we can win together,” Booker said. “We can end poverty together. We can make sure that everyone across Kentucky is living a gainful life, that we are pulling up the roots of racism, that we can have healing in our commonwealth and in our country. We can do it together.”
Booker added that change starts with state leaders listening to the people they represent.
“The reason I’m moving across Kentucky now to listen to you is because I want to amplify the truth,” he said. “You all represent the truth, the love, the passion, the hard work, the faith, the diligence, the unity, the possibility that a lot of people don’t say exists in this great Commonwealth.”
Booker also said it’s disheartening when he hears people say Kentucky isn’t a battleground state or that it’s not worth fighting for.
“Folks will say Kentucky’s not a battleground state,” he said. “That just means you’re not fighting. And I believe Kentucky is worth fighting for. I believe every single one of y’all in this room and everyone you’re connected to is worth fighting for. I don’t care what your party is. I don’t care what your background is. You matter. You are critically important. And if we have more leaders that lean into that for a change, just imagine what we could do.”
To back up his commitment to listening, Booker is asking citizens three questions: What makes you proud of being from Kentucky? What concerns do you have about the challenges that you’re facing in life, in your neighborhood in the city, in Kentucky? What solutions do you have?
He asked those Monday in Owensboro, saying he’s sincere in his desire to make decisions based on what the people want.
“I’m encouraging the people of Owensboro to know that their voice matters and they deserve a U.S. Senator that’s gonna fight for them,” he said. “I’m asking those questions so that I can be accountable to the people of Owensboro. It’s encouraging to see folks respond and say thank you for listening to us for a change, and so I’m here to let people of Owensboro know I care about them and I’m gonna fight like hell for them.”