US Sen. Rand Paul sailed to re-election Tuesday night, crushing Democrat Charles Booker’s hopes that he’d pull off a massive upset and become not only the first Democratic senator elected in Kentucky since 1992 but also the commonwealth’s first Black senator.
Paul won a third six-year term in Congress, scoring a victory that the Associated Press called relatively early Tuesday evening as election results rolled in.
The libertarian-leaning senator ran on a staunchly conservative platform. He highlighted things like his longstanding skepticism of US spending on foreign aid and military intervention in foreign conflicts (including Russia’s war against Ukraine) and his opposition to public health rules like mask mandates that were in place for part of the ongoing pandemic in places like Kentucky. (Hey fundraised off his arguments with Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert. It’s a safe bet he’ll fire off more criticisms of Fauci, who’ll retire soon, in the coming months.)
2022 Kentucky election results:All the midterm election results in one spot
Booker’s platform differed a lot from Paul’s and featured his support for progressive policies like Medicare for Allwhich would revamp American health care by instituting a single-payer system where a government-run health insurance program covers costs for people throughout the country.
In the first general election since Republican-appointed justices on the US Supreme Court eliminated a nearly 50-year-old, nationwide right to abortion, Booker called for the reinstatement of that right while Paul − who repeatedly has sponsored anti-abortion legislation − supported the Supreme Court’s ruling, which paved the way for abortion to get almost totally banned in Kentucky starting this summer.
Booker, who was the Democratic Party’s first black nominee for the Senate in Kentucky, said again and again that he believed enough voters would join him to “shock the world” and defeat the well-known senator despite the state becoming increasingly Republican.
He contended his path to victory would be “turning out communities that get ignored or taken for granted,” in both rural and urban parts of his home state. He worked to connect with people over their shared experiences, such as living through poverty and being unable to afford insulin and other medication, and he said Paul refused to support policies that would make Kentuckians’ wallets thicker and their lives better.
In his campaign against Paul, Booker used the same slogan, “From the hood to the hole,” that he promoted during his 2020 campaign for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s seat (a race he lost at the primary level to Democrat Amy McGrath) and later deployed as the title of his memory and of his nonprofit“Hood to the Holler.”
Paul, whose campaign raised millions of dollars more than Booker’s, ran ads that said Booker supports defunding the police and accused him of implicitly supporting political violence and threats. Booker pointed to such rhetoric from Paul as examples of “dog whistle” politics, a tactic that uses coded language to raise the specter of race. Paul’s campaign pushed back against that assertion.
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