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Charles Booker, Photo: bookerforkentucky.com
Charles Booker, Photo: bookerforkentucky.com

Charles Booker, you still shocked the world

 How much did you care about Kentucky’s primary before Charles Booker’s bid for the U.S. Senate?

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While early results had Booker poised to disrupt today’s politics, it was the Democratic establishment’s Amy McGrath who took the final lead Tuesday morning, after a week of uncertainty, and a largely too-close-to-call race.

The week-long ballot count had the country constantly refreshing the various Kentucky primary election pages online, holding its breath as one took the lead over the other.

When was the last time anyone not from Kentucky cared so much about its congressional primary? Before the revived Black Lives Matter movement and Charles Booker’s momentous bid for The Senate, no one was talking about the Kentucky primaries beyond McGrath’s expected challenge to McConnell in November. 

Booker made all eyes fall prematurely on Kentucky by fighting McGrath to the end.

No, Booker did not win, but he barely announced his candidacy in January, barely had any fundraising compared to McGrath’s millions, and to top it off, election night saw only one polling location in Louisville, a city of 600,000 people. 

Booker still took the city.

The 35-year-old state representative saw a massive surge in support as he became an active voice in Kentucky’s Black Lives Matter movement against police violence, and especially after the March police shooting of Breonna Taylor in his hometown of Louisville.

Before Booker’s campaign, before Breonna Taylor’s life was taken, there was no serious challenge to McGrath in the effort to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Now, after a hard-fought victory, McGrath faces the difficult task of unseating McConnell in November. 

If the nation has learned anything from this Democratic primary, it’s that there is real interest in his replacement, even in a so-called red state. 

And if there’s anything McGrath has learned, it is that she does not have as much popularity among progressives as previously thought, as the Kentucky primary wasn’t expected to be much of a competition before Booker’s late surge.

The majority of Kentucky Democrats have made the careful decision of McGrath, a well-funded veteran in a state that sided with President Trump by a 30-point majority in 2016.

Booker would not have had an easy race by McConnel by any means, but this primary season has highlighted the Democratic Party’s ideological divisions. It was seen during last week’s New York primaries, where the first two Black LGBTQ candidates are expected to be elected, and as incumbent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily defended her seat in her first reelection bid.

A day before the final votes were in Booker expressed how the overwhelming support has affected him as a Black individual. 

“As a poor Black kid from the hood, I always felt invisible. Kentucky, I don’t feel that way anymore. You’ve restored my hope and I love you for it,” he tweeted.

This is definitely not the last the world will see of Booker, and considering Rand Paul’s seat is up for a challenge in 2022, perhaps Kentucky will be up for another fight soon.

Charles Booker still shocked the world. He made us believe in a movement, no matter what the outcome.

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