Hopes abound that Paul can be defeated by Booker in Kentucky – people’s world
“Kentucky is not a ‘red state’,” begins a recent fundraising email from CharlesBooker.org.
We called it a “garland of grabbing” when I was a daily journalist.
The claim is based on voter registration totals. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 82,250, according to the email.
Even so, a large number of registered Democrats regularly vote Republican. Last November, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the state’s five GOP congressmen won big again. Republicans added to their super-majorities in the State House and Senate, to boot.
The Republican red tide in Bluegrass State shows no signs of ebbing. This is likely why Booker, a former Louisville state representative, is the only Democrat who is publicly considering a challenge to Senator Rand Paul next year.
The deadline for submission is only in January. Booker can therefore find company during his party’s primary.
The email also says Kentucky is “a state where more people stay at home than voting halfway” and a state “where a lot of people haven’t been heard for a very long time.”
According to the email, Booker, the “young progressive leader who has lived through the struggles other politicians have just spoken of” is winning “the support of the Cry Hood,” attracting “people from all walks of life. Teachers, coal miners and nurses. Black, white and brown people. “
A Booker-Paul match would be historic, but not just because Booker is African American and Kentucky has never had a black senator or congressman. Booker v. Paul would offer voters one of the clearest choices between Democratic and Republican Senate candidates in years.
Paul and Booker differ profoundly, in politics and in personalities.
- Booker is a pro-union liberal and proud of himself. He thinks the government has a responsibility to help people who need help.
- Paul is an anti-union reactionary who leans towards Trump who believes that the government has no reason to promote general welfare, especially for our fellow citizens whom the Good Book calls “the least” among us.
Like Trump, Paul is an intimidating demagogue given to slanderous opponents. Trafficking in both misleading statements and flat lies.
Recently, Paul called Dr.Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden and a favorite punching bag of the Republican right, “Mr. Little dictator. Paul said Fauci “probably has the highest IQ for someone who actually acts like an ignoramus every day of the week.”
Paul, like McConnell, rejoices in slamming as “socialist” Democrats like Booker who dare to suggest that the job of government is not to enrich the already rich while leaving the poor to fend for themselves.
Booker ignores ad hominem attacks.
“Nice guys finish last,” said Hall of Fame player-coach-manager Leo “The Lip” Durocher. Booker’s kindness won him at least one vote in last year’s Democratic Senate primary, which he lost to Amy McGrath, whom McConnell defeated in the general election.
“I took my sister to meet Charles Booker at an event,” said Judy Tuggle, a Booker fan, a Democratic activist from Mayfield. “She was going to vote for McGrath in elementary school. But he was so friendly, so honest, and so sincere that she voted for him – and, of course, for McGrath in November.
Republicans might ignore Booker’s sympathy as a trait easily overcome by their man’s war chest that will certainly be amply filled, his loyalty to Trump in one of Trump’s most states, and the inherent power of office.
Okay, history really doesn’t repeat itself. But the past is filled with interesting and sometimes instructive parallels to the present.
Paul will be for a third term in 2022. Senator Charles Percy, R-Ill., Was going for a fourth in 1984, also a presidential election year. Percy had heaps of money and the endorsement of Ronald Reagan, the proto-Trump, who was heading for a second term.
As expected, Reagan won the Land of Lincoln and the election. But Democrat Paul Simon toppled Percy.
Thirteen years later, Simon left the Senate and headed the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He came down to give a speech at Paducah Community College, now West Kentucky Community and Technical College, where I taught history for two dozen years.
Simon, of Makanda, had served four terms as lieutenant governor and congressman from the deep south of Illinois before taking Percy. I had written about Congressman Simon when I was Paducah Sun-Democrat and Paducah Sun writer and columnist. So when college asked me to go with them to dinner and introduce him before his speech, I jumped at the chance.
Over a meal with our wives at Ruby Tuesday, I asked Simon, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, how he beat Percy. “If people like you, they’ll vote for you,” he smirked and replied in his famous deep baritone voice.
He recalled when he campaigned door-to-door in a Republican suburb of Chicago. “A man came to me and said, ‘Congressman Simon, I can’t think of anything you and I agree on, but I’m going to vote for you because I love you.’”
I suspect Tuggle’s sister isn’t the only Kentuckian that Booker has won through kindness, honesty, and sincerity. But he’ll have to charm a lot more voters to turn the petulant Paul into Percy.