Charles Booker has an announcement to make, but first, he had to tell his “family.”
So on Sunday morning, the former Kentucky state representative grabbed a microphone and asked the 25 members in attendance at the church where his mother serves as assistant pastor to add him to their prayer list, even though he wouldn’t quite tell them why that was necessary.
“Every time I step out on faith, to do what God has called me to do, I connect with you all first,” he told the parishioners at the City of Refuge church as an organ hummed in the background. “God has given me this as a home, to prepare me and have folks around me that will love on me. So I’m here again, because this is gonna be a big week.”
The actual announcement came today: Huffington Post confirmed that Booker, whose narrow primary loss last year in the Democratic primary to face Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) nevertheless made him a rising star in Kentucky politics, formally launched his campaign to challenge Sen. Rand Paul, the state’s other Republican senator, in 2022.
Democrats have not won a Senate race in Kentucky in three decades, and McConnell’s resounding victory nine months ago will likely cause the national party to prioritize just about every other contested Senate race — in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Florida — as they try to protect and expand their majority. Booker is among a group of Black Democratic Senate candidates that is only likely to grow in the coming months, as a national campaign apparatus that once viewed such candidates as too risky to run in statewide contests becomes more open and diverse, especially after Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in Georgia earlier this year. He launched his campaign from the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, which sits on a boulevard named for Muhammad Ali in the heart of West Louisville.