The showdown is set. On Tuesday (May 17), Charles Booker officially became the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky after defeating a slate of marginal challengers.
According to the Associated Press, the 37-year-old former state legislator from Louisville will now face off against Republican Rand Paul in the November midterm elections, and if he wins, would become the first Black U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth.
“It’s official,” Booker tweeted Tuesday night. “I am the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. In November, we will make history by defeating Rand Paul and expanding our Senate majority.”
Booker faces a treacherous political environment in his race against Paul, an incumbent seeking his third term who also easily won his primary on Tuesday. Paul has raised more than $20 million for the 2022 cycle compared to just over $3 million Booker has collected so far. Democrats also haven’t won a U.S. Senate contest in Kentucky in 30 years.
Progressives have, however, steadily increased their power inside Kentucky’s Democratic Party over the past decade, but many Dems are skeptical that a push to the left will make them more competitive.
“They have exactly what they’ve clamored for and deserve – a unified party behind the most progressive candidate we’ve ever nominated for statewide office,” said Kim Geveden, a Democratic consultant in the state, according to McClatchy DC. “This matchup will now test that wisdom.”
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Republican candidate, Kathy Barnette, a Black Republican with a history of supporting Donald Trump and a history of extremist viewpoints, came in dismally behind hedge fund exec Dave McCormack and TV doctor Mehmet Oz in the state’s GOP primary. The two men were locked in a dead heat Wednesday afternoon with more than 100,000 mail-in ballots waiting to be counted.