Booker files for Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell

Booker files for Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Vowing to fight the status quo, state Rep. Charles Booker officially filed Wednesday to enter the Democratic primary in Kentucky for the seat held by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Booker, a freshman state lawmaker, joins a crowded field of Kentucky Democrats competing to challenge McConnell, a key ally of President Donald Trump. McConnell — the top-ranking Republican congressional leader — is seeking a seventh term this year.

Booker sounded ready to take on the establishment in both political parties. Amy McGrath, a retired Marine combat pilot and former congressional candidate, has raised nearly $17 million and is widely seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic Senate nomination.

“I am running for the people of Kentucky,” Booker told reporters on Wednesday. “And that means we call out the status quo, whoever that implicates.”

Without naming any rivals, Booker said Kentucky voters should reject politicians who position themselves in the “soft center” and avoid taking stands on issues.

Booker was joined by several of his Democratic state House colleagues when he filed his official entry into the race. He said he wants to give Kentuckians “something to vote for, not just against.”

Staking out progressive stands, the Louisville Democrat supports Medicare for All and taxing billionaires to help pay for investments in infrastructure, health care and education. He also stresses the need to combat poverty.

“Kentuckians want real progress,” Booker said. “We’re tired of poverty being generational. We’re tired of struggling. And we want a leader in the Senate that’s going to fight for us and not against us.”

Booker is hoping to emulate the election success of another African American politician, Republican Daniel Cameron, who was elected Kentucky’s attorney general last year.

McGrath’s campaign declined comment Wednesday on Booker’s entry into the race. Booker announced his Senate bid last weekend after spending the past couple of months traveling the state to road test his campaign and gauge support.

McConnell’s campaign has used Booker’s candidacy to take a shot at McGrath.

“Amy McGrath has spent $8 million on a six-month campaign but can’t even convince Kentucky Democrats she deserves their party’s nomination,” McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden said in a statement Wednesday.