Possible Senate contest in Kentucky brings ideological opponents together

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—U.S. Senator Rand Paul rarely targets his possible Democratic opponent by name, but Republicans’ campaign attacks in Kentucky are clearly targeting Charles Booker’s agenda—to win the people over in what has shaped as a populist-themed war with entirely different characteristics. opinions.

In his quest for a third Senate term, Paul voices a national voice for a libertarian-leaning philosophy based on limited government and limited spending. Anti-ideologically, Booker promotes a New Deal-style economic platform. Booker is well ahead of the Democratic side in the Bluegrass State primary elections next Tuesday.

Booker has three main opponents, while Paul pulls off five little-known Republican opponents. Both are campaigning with a view to the general election in a state that has deviated sharply from the GOP. In recent years, statewide Democrats have struggled to stay competitive in Kentucky, with one notable exception: Democratic Government Andy Beshear, who narrowly dismissed an incumbent Republican in 2019, remains popular ahead of the 2023 re-election race.

Paul, who ran for the White House in 2016, has had a huge fundraising advantage and is heavily selected for reelection in November. Kentucky has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Wendell Ford in 1992.

But sparks may fly in a matchup between two candidates who are not known to temper their views.

Booker, a black former state legislator, insists he can reverse his party’s slumping fortunes after consecutive Senate losses by more moderate Democrats. In 2020, Booker was noted for his message of racial and economic justice during nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans in clashes with police. Booker barely lost the Democratic Senate primary that year to an establishment-backed opponent.

With the same agenda in 2022, Booker offers a progressive platform called the Kentucky New Deal. He says social programs like Medicare for all and a basic universal income will raise cross-sections of Kentuckians—a “scream-out” message that aims to resonate from poor urban neighborhoods to struggling Appalachian towns.

“I am running a campaign to bring us together across the divisions,” Booker told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “And addressing poverty, ensuring real community safety and making sure we can live meaningful lives focused on love and humanity.”

For Paul, such sweeping social proposals are prime examples of an overly large federal government he’s been warned about since his first Senate run. An ardent proponent of free markets, Paul destroyed socialism for years, promising to fight “every ounce of my being” to socialism.

“The lure of something for nothing is not new,” Paul said at a recent campaign rally. “We can get something for free somehow.”

Making sure everyone gets quality healthcare isn’t radical, Booker said. He accuses the senator of “using dog whistles” in economic and criminal justice issues to try to bring him down.

First elected in the tea party-led wave of 2010, Paul touted his less intrusive philosophy, denouncing what he saw as government overreach in response to COVID-19. Paul, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, on the government’s coronavirus policies and the origins of the virus that caused the global pandemic. He had memorable clashes with Anthony Fauci and used these disagreements to increase his campaign contributions.

As an outsider who has long fought against the establishment, Paul may be on the verge of gaining more Senate power. He said he was about to assume the chair of a committee if the GOP wins Senate control after the November election. The Senate currently has a 50-50 split, but the Democrats have a weak edge because Vice President Kamala Harris is a draw.

He has pledged to strongly review the origins of COVID-19 should he run for the presidency.

“When we take over in November, I’ll be chair of a committee and have subpoena power,” Paul said. “And we’re going to get to the bottom of where this virus came from.”

In a recent program on Kentucky Educational Television, Booker sought to capitalize on the populist wave instigated by Republican Donald Trump, saying that when the former president said that the system was broken for most of us in Kentucky, he spoke of some truths we cannot ignore. ”

“He was using fear, using pain as a weapon, when he said he would improve the situation now,” Booker added.

Republicans reject Booker’s hopes of winning Trump supporters.

Paul already has the support of the former president – currently seen as the top prize in Kentucky politics. Trump announced his support for Paul’s re-election last year, saying the senator was “fighting against the Swamp in Washington”. Paul’s support for a more restrained foreign policy helped him build a close relationship with Trump, who bested him for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

It positions the Democrats long-term in another Senate race in Kentucky—but maybe Booker can be relieved by the fact that an 80-1 shot won the Kentucky Derby.

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